Qatar 2022: A World Cup of forced labour and death

by Aiden Daries


Accusations about forced labour, slavery, death and overall human rights violations are being made against Qatar ahead of their hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.


The hosts of the 2022 FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup, Qatar, have been heavily criticised by the footballing world ever since they were confirmed hosts of the prestigious tournament back in 2010.


The most obvious problem that many people have with Qatar hosting the World Cup is the extreme heat conditions players will have to endure. Traditionally the FIFA World Cup has been played in the months of May and June, but this was seen as a major concern for the 2022 World Cup.


The Arabian Peninsula, in which Qatar is located, experiences extreme heat conditions during the middle of the year: the period in which the FIFA World Cup would have commenced.


It was for this reason that FIFA decided in 2018 to move the 2022 tournament to the months of November and December. This would officially be the first FIFA World Cup to have not been played during midyear.


The exploitation of migrant workers during the building of certain stadiums, specifically the Khalifa International Stadium, has been severely condemned by the general football public.


Amnesty International, a global movement campaigning for the rights of all to be respected, has reported that almost every single person working on the various stadiums throughout Qatar has experienced exploitation. Amnesty International also reported that these workers all had their human rights violated in one way or another.


A large majority of these workers are migrants, as 95% of the labour force in Qatar are made up of migrant workers. The report put out by Amnesty International has highlighted the terrible living conditions of these workers, as well as them being completely misled as to the salary and job type they were going to receive upon their arrival in Qatar.


Migrant workers performing hard labour in one of the Qatari stadiums. Photo by Amnesty International.

These workers also revealed that they were not paid for many months of labour, which poses not only a threat to their lives but also to their families' lives back home.


The report also disclosed that workers were often threatened if they complained about their working and living conditions. Some argue that the forced labour being displayed and revealed so publicly is modern day slavery.


Various government sources and media reports have revealed that about 6 500 migrant workers have died since 2010, the year Qatar was given the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Working day-in and day-out in extreme heat and under extreme pressure is a major human right violation.


Furthermore, accusations made by the US Department of Justice arguing that former CONMEBOL (South American football governing body) president Nicolas Leoz was paid in order to vote for Qatar back in 2010 place deeper in the limelight.


Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter admitted in 2014 that it was a mistake to grant Qatar the right to host the FIFA World Cup. Despite all the concerns that had been raised before granting the Asian country the hosting rights of one of the biggest sporting events, FIFA decided to turn a blind eye and grant them this right nevertheless.


A few national football teams are in cahoots when it comes to protesting against Qatar hosting the FIFA World Cup. In the latest round of World Cup qualifiers, national teams such as the Netherlands, Germany, Norway and Denmark displayed pre-match jerseys as an act of defiance against the Asian country being made hosts of the tournament.


German midfielder Toni Kroos has spoken out on his podcast about the situation in Qatar. Kroos stated, “It’s wrong that this tournament was awarded to Qatar”. He also touched on the many human rights that were being violated against the migrant workers.


However, the midfielder did not call for a boycott of the tournament saying that he does not believe that a boycott would achieve anything.


Another German midfielder Joshua Kimmich has come forward to state that it is 10 years too late to protest against this matter.


From the outside looking in, with all the accusations being made against Qatar, the 2022 FIFA World Cup is going to be one to remember, but for all the wrong reasons.


The General Secretary of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty has summed up the situation happening in Qatar perfectly, simply saying, “For players and fans, a World Cup stadium is a place of dreams. For some of the workers… it can feel like a living nightmare.”.


The German national team display the words “HUMAN RIGHTS” in protest of the 2020 FIFA World Cup. Photo by Deutsche Welle (DW).

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