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Liverpool FC avoid Kempinski hotel in Qatar over workers rights concerns

Hotel in Doha accused of not paying its workers properly or adhering to local labour laws
Kempinski had denied claims of worker rights abuse and said it was investigating allegations made against the company (AFP)

Liverpool Football Club has chosen not to stay at a Kempinski hotel in Qatar for the FIFA Club World Cup after the team's background checks raised concerns over the company's track record on workers rights in the emirate.

FIFA, football's world governing body, had offered Liverpool the Marsa Malaz Kempinski, a five-star hotel on the artificial island of Pearl-Qatar in Doha, for the sport's transcontinental club showpiece event in December, The Athletic reported.

However, following a routine check on the hotel, as part of Liverpool's internal policies on human rights trafficking, it decided to opt-out of staying at the resort, according to The Athletic. 

A source at Liverpool Football Club confirmed to Middle East Eye that the club made the decision to avoid the Marsa Malaz Kempinski over ethical concerns about workers rights. The source said the club was concerned by accusations levelled by human rights groups and newspaper reports that Kempinski had breached labour laws and not paid its workers properly.

The FIFA Club World Cup, to be played between 11-22 December in Doha, will consist of seven matches between teams who have won football tournaments in six continental federations, plus a local Qatari club.

Liverpool gained a spot at the competition after beating Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Champions League final earlier this year. 

Last month, Liverpool's biggest supporters club, Spirit of Shankly, raised concerns over Qatar's treatment of migrant worker rights ahead of the club's trip to the gas-rich emirate. 

In a statement published on its website, the supporters union called on "Qatari authorities to take immediate steps to investigate and address the deeply troubling patern of death of migrant workers". 

Accusations against Kempinski

Kempinski has previously been accused of not paying their workers properly and "failing migrant workers" who build their hotels in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

A Guardian investigation in 2018 revealed that workers at the Marsa Malaz Kempinski hotel in Qatar were paid below minimum wage while enduring long shifts in intense heat.  

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Kempinski did not respond to questions posed by MEE on Liverpool's decision to not stay at its flagship hotel in Doha.

A spokesperson for Kempinski, however, told MEE that it had launched a "thorough investigation into working conditions at the hotel" following the Guardian report.

Earlier this year, the UK-based Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) ran a survey asking several hotel companies, including Kempinski, whether it had a policy on construction and hotel workers.

Kempinski did not respond to BHRRC's survey until after it was published, and described the NGO's findings as "inaccurate".

Commenting on Liverpool's decision to not stay at the Marsa Malaz Kempinski, Diana Eltahawy, a spokersperson for BHRRC, told MEE that other clubs like Liverpool should "leverage their power to improve conditions for workers".