"I was shocked to see this exploitation in football," explained Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation.
"In late 2010 we conducted a risk assessment looking at basic fundamental labor rights. The Gulf region stood out like a red light. They were absolutely at the bottom end for rights for workers. They were fundamentally slave states."
The ITUC had been in talks with FIFA and the Qatari authorities, pressing for reform.
As Burrow points out, it will be migrant workers who build the multi-billion dollar 2022 World Cup project; the transport infrastructure, the hotels and the 12 state of the art stadiums. It is estimated that as many as one million extra workers will be flown in.
"It went nowhere," Burrow said of the discussions.
"They refused to give us freedom of association. I went there to the Qatari labor camps every week holding meetings. The conditions in the camps were squalid. No personal space, the cooking facilities were unsafe.
"These men are basically slaves there. The legal system doesn't work, their contracts are torn up at a whim. These men are very angry. They feel like their lives are being taken away.
"In the meantime we had no choice but to put it back on FIFA," Burrow added.
"If two years on [since the award of the 2022 World Cup] the [Qatari] government has not done the fundamentals, they have no commitment to human rights."
On the issue of migrant worker rights during the construction of projects related to the World Cup, and the call by the ITUC for FIFA to strip Qatar of the tournament, the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said in a statement to CNN: "The safety, security, health and dignity of workers -- be they professionals or construction workers -- is of paramount importance.
"Our commitment is to change working conditions in order to ensure a lasting legacy of improved worker welfare. We are aware this cannot be done overnight. But the 2022 FIFA World Cup is acting as a catalyst for improvements in this regard."
They point to the Migrant Workers Welfare Charter that the government enacted last October, which pledges that all 2022 World Cup contractors and sub-contractors will be held accountable to strict standards of health and safety, equal treatment and safe and healthy living conditions.
There is also a promise to "ensure that wages are paid to workers on time".
"We have always acknowledged that the current state of workers welfare needs to be improved," the statement continued.
"From the very beginning we have pointed to the power of football as a tremendous catalyst for tangibly improving labor conditions in Qatar and the region at large.
"We opened a dialogue with Human Rights Watch and the ITUC in the latter stages of 2012, agreeing to work together in developing language for our workers' charter and contractual provisions relating to labor ... To commence this dialogue and then for ITUC to launch a campaign calling for the reopening of the vote is in our view highly disingenuous and leads us to question ITUC's intentions."
To build on the worker's welfare charter, the Qatar Foundation last week announced that it would enforce mandatory standards of migrant workers welfare to "help apply minimum requirements with respect to the recruitment, living and working conditions, as well as the general treatment of workers engaged in construction and other projects."
In a statement to CNN, FIFA maintained that the "World Cup in the Middle East offers a great opportunity for the region to discover football's power as a platform for positive social change. FIFA upholds the respect for human rights and the application of international norms of behavior as a principle and part of all our activities."
Football's global governing body also pointed out it had held meetings with both the ITUC and Human Rights Watch.
"FIFA expects the dialogue that started with both the Qatari authorities and organizations like HRW to continue in the build-up of the 2022 FIFA World Cup," the statement said.
"FIFA will continue as part of our social responsibility strategy to address opportunities to increase the positive and reduce the negative impacts of the FIFA World Cup towards 2022."
The Qatari government has intimated that it is prepared to scrap the kafala system of sponsorship. "The sponsorship system will be replaced with a contract signed by the two parties," Hussain Al Mulla, undersecretary for the Ministry of Labor, told local Arabic daily Al Arab in 2012. But as Human Rights Watch points out, no timetable has been set.
After repeated attempts by CNN to seek comment from the Ministry of Labor, Qatari officials declined to respond.
But it wasn't just construction workers trapped in the system. The ITUC's Burrow said he was shocked to discover that several footballers had befallen the same fate.
Belounis says that his problems began after he had become captain of El Jaish, then a second division club.