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FIFA admits North Koreans helped build World Cup venue

Zurich (AFP) – Football’s world governing body FIFA said Friday it had evidence that North Korean workers had been employed on 2018 World Cup venue construction in Russia.

A FIFA inspection tour to Saint Petersburg in November uncovered information that workers from the Stalinist state were engaged on stadium construction, it said.

“During an inspection visit last November, the monitoring team found evidence suggesting the presence of North Korean workers,” FIFA said in a statement.

“It then engaged in efforts to gain additional information on their labour and living conditions acknowledging the potential issues involving workers from this country.”

The impoverished North Korea state is known to export workers abroad in a bid to earn hard currency. The workers are often employed in near slave-labour conditions.

FIFA said it had raised the matter with Russian companies following the visit and also set up a monitoring system to protect the rights of workers engaged on World Cup construction sites.

It said that systematic checks for North Koreans are now carried out at venues and Russian contractors must sign a statement on North Korean workers.

“At the last inspection in March, the monitoring team did not find evidence of North Korean workers on the construction site and concluded that no North Korean workers were working on the site,” FIFA added.

“After the incidents in Saint Petersburg, FIFA and the LOC (Russia’s World Cup organising committee) have added systematic checks on the presence of North Korean workers in its inspections on all FIFA World Cup construction sites.”

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