Qatar admits ‘hundreds’ of migrant workers died building World Cup infrastructure
Independent investigations ahead of the FIFA World Cup put the actual figure of migrant deaths in the thousands
By News Desk - November 30 2022

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

The Secretary-General of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Hassan al-Thawadi, revealed on 29 November that “between 400 and 500” migrants died in the country due to their work for the FIFA World Cup.

“The estimate is around 400, between 400 and 500,” Thawadi said during an interview with British TV personality Piers Morgan on Tuesday.

“I don’t have the exact number. That’s something that’s been discussed,” the Qatari official added.

While the figure provided by Thawadi is a drastically higher number than any other number previously put forth by Doha, a 2021 report by The Guardian claims that over 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka died in Qatar since it won the right to host the World Cup in 2010.

In 2017, Qatar launched an agenda to address labor-related problems. Legal reforms, such as a new minimum wage and improved access to justice, were passed in the country, and key aspects of an abusive sponsorship system – known as Kafala across West Asia – have been repealed.

But despite the reforms, in April of this year Amnesty International issued a report that alleged migrant workers were still victims of abuse, including being forced to work 12-hour shifts without a day off for months, or even years, as well as fines for taking a toilet break, concluding that their working conditions “amount to forced labor.”

Other abuses documented by Amnesty included overcrowded and unsanitary accommodation, working for hours exposed to intense heat, wage or task discrimination based on race, and non-payment of overtime.

Just weeks before the World Cup’s start, Reuters reported that Qatari officials evicted thousands of foreign workers from over a dozen buildings in the center of the capital Doha.

The migrant workers, mainly Asians and Africans, were forced to seek alternative shelter. Some ended up sleeping on the sidewalk in front of one of their former homes, as authorities informed tenants that they had two hours to leave. City officials returned, forced everyone out, and locked the building’s doors.

Some residents were unable to return in time to retrieve their belongings. “We have nowhere to go,” one man told Reuters the next day.

The mistreatment of migrant workers, as well as restrictive LGBT+ laws by the World Cup host, led to several grandstanding displays of “protest” by western nations on the first day of the tournament.

These lessons in virtue signaling, however, did not last very long, as days later, Germany signed a major gas distribution deal with Doha, while the US announced a new arms deal with their Gulf partner during their national football team’s match against Iran.

Moreover, Qatar has threatened to pull its massive investment in the UK in response to an advertisement ban in London.

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