Not all the fatalities are on construction sites

Remember last fall Nick Cohen wrote about the appalling conditions for migrant workers in Qatar in the run-up to the World Cup? Like, How many more must die for Qatar’s World Cup?

Not all the fatalities are on construction sites. The combination of back-breaking work, nonexistent legal protections, intense heat and labour camps without air conditioning allows death to come in many guises. To give you a taste of its variety, the friends of Chirari Mahato went online to describe how he would work from 6am to 7pm. He would return to a hot, unventilated room he shared with 12 others. Because he died in his sleep, rather than on site, his employers would not accept that they had worked him to death. There are millions of workers like him around the Gulf.

And, Will Qatar’s World Cup be built on a graveyard?

Since I wrote about the rising piles of corpses in Qatar two weeks ago, Robert Booth of the Guardian published a fine investigation, which claimed that the World Cup could cost 4,000 lives if nothing is done.

And guess what; nothing has been done. This time it’s Business Insider reporting.

A report from the International Trade Union Confederation says 1,200 migrant workers from India and Nepal have died in Qatar since the country was awarded the 2022 World Cup.

The ITUC estimates that 4,000 migrant workers will die by the time the first game is played in 2022.

The report is in line with recent death numbers from the embassies of the two countries.

The Nepalese embassy in Qatar reported last month that 400 Nepalese workers had died working on World Cup projects since 2010. The Indian embassy reported that 500 Indian workers had died in Qatar since 2012.

But on the other side you have…the World Cup. What’s a few thousand foreign lives compared to that?

There are 1.4 million migrant workers in Qatar, the ITUC reports, many of whom are now tasked with building the infrastructure necessary to host a World Cup from scratch.

From the ITUC report:

“Whether the cause of death is labelled a work accidents, heart attack (brought on by the life threatening effects of heat stress) or diseases from squalid living conditions, the root cause is the same – working conditions.”

Workers at the Lusail City construction site told the Guardian that their bosses have withheld pay, forced them to work in 122-degree heat with no rest for food, and confiscated their passports to make sure they don’t leave the country.

Combine those complaints with squalid living conditions, and some are calling the situation in Qatar “modern day slavery.”

Hello, FIFA? People are watching.

there’s a new report from the Telegraph that says ex-FIFA vice president Jack Warner is being investigated by the FBI for taking a $2 million payment from a Qatari company shortly after the 2022 World Cup vote. The company in question is owned by a man who was given a lifetime ban from FIFA after being found guilty of bribery charges.

FIFA’s decision to hold the World Cup in Qatar was criticized from the beginning. In the three years since they won the right to host the event, Qatar has done little to change that widespread skepticism.





  1. ajb47 says

    FIFA is no better, and may be worse, than the IOC when it comes to things like getting bribed to award event locations, and then not caring how that location gets its act in order so they can do the actual hosting.

  2. robertwilson says

    FIFA is essentially a mafia. It’s an organization that’s accountable to no one, it works for the benefit of the insiders alone and has convinced itself that what it does is required, or that it benefits its member countries (as opposed to just it’s member federations which represent those countries).

    Like the IOC it started as a noble idea that is entirely unaware of just how bad the rot is and how far it has come from its objectives. It focuses on brand protection more vehemently and ridiculously than almost any entity out there while paying lip service to a bunch of noble ideas that it is ultimately unwilling to truly committ to (dealing with racism, poverty and so on).

    It’s sad as a soccer fan who’s going to watch the World Cup to come to these realizations (which I did a long time ago) but the sadder part is the unwillingness of anyone on the inside (of football, not FIFA itself) to challenge this sort of organization. It’s just a behemoth that cannot be easily slain… but one day I hope it will be.

  3. RJW says

    I wonder how many national football administrations are so outraged by Qatari human rights violations that they will boycott the event.

  4. medivh says

    drken: I’m not so sure about that. The FIA has been accused of many things, but I can’t remember them being accused of hosting, or planning to host, a GP on a pile of corpses.

    RJW: I’m guessing about the same number of olympic committees that were outraged by Russian human rights violations enough to boycott Sochi 2014.

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