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Owners of England’s WAGS World Cup cruise ship being investigated for ‘slave labour’

England’s WAGS are staying on a cruise ship owned by a company that is being investigated for using ‘slave labour,’ MailOnline can reveal.

Three ships belonging to MSC Cruises, one of the biggest cruise line companies in the world are docked in Doha port to provide luxury accommodation for WAGs and other World Cup fans.

Among the WAGs expected to stay on the lavish £1 billion MSC World Europa, dubbed HMS WAG is Jack Grealish’s girlfriend Sasha Attwood, England defender Eric Dier’s partner Anna Modler and Marcus Rashford’s fiancé Lucia Loi.

Two other MSC ships in Doha’s port providing accommodation for fans and other celebrities are the MSC Opera and MSC Poesia.

But while guests live it up in eye-watering luxury, with packages to stay on board costing up to £6,000 MSC Cruises, which owns and operates the ships is being investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over claims that Cuban workers were subject to ‘slave-like’ conditions.

The sensation allegations were uncovered by Spain based human rights group Prisoners Defenders, which has submitted a detailed dossier to the ICC containing testimonies and other evidence from more than 1,000 Cuban workers on their treatment while working on MSC ships and in other industries around the world.

Among the allegations are that they only received 20% of their salaries with the remainder going to the communist Cuban government to help it collect vital foreign currency reserves and that MSC officials took their passports.

The company that owns the £1billion cruise ship MSC World Europa is being investigated for 'slave labour'

The company that owns the £1billion cruise ship MSC World Europa is being investigated for ‘slave labour’

Workers on ships owned by MSC Cruises, who own MSC World Europa, have been paid less than £100 a month

Workers on ships owned by MSC Cruises, who own MSC World Europa, have been paid less than £100 a month

England's WAGS will be staying on the lavish cruise liner during the World Cup, including Eric Dier's partner Anna Modler

England’s WAGS will be staying on the lavish cruise liner during the World Cup, including Eric Dier’s partner Anna Modler

The Cuban ship staff were required to work a minimum 40 hours per week. In its evidence Prisoners Defenders highlighted the case of one former MSC employee who was paid £357 per month but the Cuban Government received £275 of this. Another had a base salary of £287 of which £229 went to the Cuban state.

The dossier, which has also been submitted to the United Nations states: ‘Victims declare that the employees of MSC Cruises became for them an extension of the repression of the Cuban regime.’

Prisoners Defenders has been conducting its investigation over the past five years. Two of the ships that it highlighted as using Cuban ‘slaves’ are the MSC Opera and MSC Poeisa which are being used for the World Cup.

The MSC World Europa is a new ship which had its naming ceremony in Doha over the weekend.

Jack Grealish's girlfriend Sasha Attwood will be living on the cruise ship during the World Cup in Qatar

Jack Grealish’s girlfriend Sasha Attwood will be living on the cruise ship during the World Cup in Qatar

Aaron Ramsdale's fiancé Georgina Irwin (above) is also set to live on the cruise ship for a month in Qatar

Aaron Ramsdale’s fiancé Georgina Irwin (above) is also set to live on the cruise ship for a month in Qatar

Further claims made during the investigation was that Filipino workers on MSC ships were also subject to an 80% reduction in their salaries which is believed to have been paid to private agents and that they were treated in an ‘exploitative, ugly way’ often doing the most menial jobs below deck.

Javier Larrondo, director of Prisoners Defenders told MailOnline: ‘Why is a company that is being investigated by the ICC for human rights violations allowed to be at the World Cup and benefit from it?

‘I’m sure that many of the rich, high-profile people on board their ships and ordinary fans don’t know about the way MSC operates.’

MSC World Europa boasts an incredible six swimming pools, 14 ocean-view whirlpools, and a 643ft promenade.

There is also an 11-deck high helter skelter called The Venom Drop — at 75m it is the tallest slide on any ship in the world.

Guests are in for a thrilling time on The Venom Drop, which at 75m is the tallest slide on any ship in the world

Guests are in for a thrilling time on The Venom Drop, which at 75m is the tallest slide on any ship in the world

England’s WAGs are expected to be among 6,762 guests in 2,633 cabins.

MSC Opera is a 2004-built cruise ship with capacity for 2,700 passengers. She underwent a thorough renovation in 2015 and has her own shopping mall as well as other luxurious amenities.

MSC Poeisa can hold 3,000 passengers and is described as ‘elegant’ boasting swimming pools and luxury bars.

During the World Cup, the cheapest room on any of the three MSC ships in Doha port will cost almost £400 per night with fans required to book a minimum of two nights.

Mr Larrondo fumed: ‘No doubt the beautiful wives and girlfriends of the players and fans from around the world will have a wonderful time staying on MSC’s luxurious ships. Who wouldn’t? But I hope they now change their minds.

‘The involvement of MSC is just another sorry chapter in a World Cup that has been overshadowed by exploitation and human rights violations. This is not what football should be about.’

The ICC has also been presented with contracts given to Cuban MSC staff showing that a maximum 80% of their salaries could be deducted.

MSC hired its Cuban staff through the Selecmar agency in Havana which is part of the country’s government and sends thousands of its citizens around the world to work in various industries.

According to campaigners this generates the government a staggering $8 billion per year and is its main source of foreign revenue.

In addition to 13 restaurants and bars, the cruise liner features a micro-brewery and mixology classes in its Elixir gin bar

In addition to 13 restaurants and bars, the cruise liner features a micro-brewery and mixology classes in its Elixir gin bar

The cruise ship also has jacuzzis and six swimming pools for guests to enjoy during their stay

The cruise ship also has jacuzzis and six swimming pools for guests to enjoy during their stay

MSC insisted that it no longer employed Cuban workers but accepted that it did pay a proportion of their wages to Cuban authorities as it was a ‘regulatory requirement.’

It said in a statement: ‘We are aware of Prisoner Defender’s report, which represents an action against the Cuban government for their management of crew salaries, not against cruise lines or MSC Cruises. It makes some extraordinary allegations about our conduct, which we absolutely refute.

‘Like all shipping companies when we had operations on Cuba – which we no longer do – we had to engage our Cuban crew members through Selecmar, which was a requirement of the Cuban authorities. While we have always paid the full salary of every crew member ever employed on our fleet, local regulatory requirements meant that part of this was provided to the Cuban Authorities for allocation to the families of Cuban crew members.’

Responding to allegations over the mistreatment of Filipino workers the company admitted that it paid percentage of their salaries ‘via agencies’ and this remains in place.

It added: ‘This is a perfectly normal arrangement in certain jurisdictions, and we will always follow the legal requirements of the countries our crew come from alongside providing good working conditions and competitive pay packages to attract them.’


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