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Qatar accused of human rights abuses ahead of the 2022 World Cup

6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar--more than in any other host country in the history of the tournament.

Qatar is exploiting workers and placing them in unsafe conditions to prepare for the upcoming World Cup tournament in 2022. 

We are all anticipating a return of the beautiful game in 2022 when the World Cup will be hosted in Qatar. But the tournament may be tainted by worker deaths in the lead up to the games. 

Qatar won the rights to host the 2022 World Cup back in 2010. Since that time, 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar. That’s more worker deaths than in any other host country in the history of the tournament. Prior to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, there were ten worker deaths. In South Africa, the number of worker deaths was two.

The soccer world has been in a heated argument, should the 2022 world cup be boycotted or switched to another country? 

This isn’t the first time FIFA sent the World Cup event to be hosted in a country that has a poor human rights record. When Brazil held the World Cup in 2014 at Rio de Janeiro, questions were raised about the many run down favelas housing the poor of the city. Rather than address the issue of poverty in the city, the Brazilian government simply boarded up the favelas, hiding them from the ideas of the tourists who would otherwise see the neighborhoods as they travel from the airport. 

There have been mixed feelings about what to do regarding the situation in Qatar. 

Roberto Martinez, the head coach of the Belgium national team isn’t a big fan of boycotting the World Cup. He said it would be a “big mistake” to cancel the prestigious tournament. 

Germany, Norway and Denmark have all stood up and taken action with the ongoing crisis in Qatar. The three international teams wore shirts saying “Human Rights On and Off the Pitch” during their World Cup qualifiers matches to raise awareness. 

German soccer star Toni Kroos said,  “It’s wrong that the World Cup was awarded to Qatar,” but Kroos also doesn’t agree with calls to boycott the tournament. He believes that a boycott or protests won’t help migrant workers.

The famous German goalie Manuel Neuer said, “We are all in favor of fair play, both on the field and off the field too, and we stand for equal human rights with these workers.”

The Norweign national coach Stale Solbakken suggested that FIFA could impose stricter guidelines and more authority when it comes to hosting the World Cup. 

Most of the migrant workers in Qatar are from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Much of the money these workers earn is sent back home to their families to help them with their basic needs such as food, water and shelter.

Qatar is a money hub known for its oil resources and high skyscrapers. 

UEFA and FIFA have also been accused in the past for being monopolies and for failing to penalize teams and nations that break their rules. FIFA has also been accused of taking bribes from host countries like Russia and Qatar in order to secure their hosting rights. 

Recently, a Dutch company “Hendriks Graszoden” given a contract for grass production for the pitches has terminated their contract with Qatar due to the ongoing human rights problems facing these migrant workers.Hendriks Graszoden’s spokespersons said, “We saw how the stadiums were being built. Not all workers wore protective clothing,we didn’t like what we saw from the organization.” They are being overworked and they don’t have harnesses when scaling tall buildings and they don’t wear proper equipment. The company also states that these underpaid and underprivileged employees are being dressed and treated differently than the born Qatari citizens. 

Danish bank Arbejdernes Landsbank has also said they don’t want their brand on the kits of national teams that will be playing in the 2022 World Cup. 

This isn’t the first time the soccer world has seen boycott protests. Similar situations have occurred in Brazil 2014 and the Sochi Olympics but those protests did not have a significant impact on the soccer stage. Whether or not the current discomfort with Qatar’s migrant worker deaths will have any impact is yet to be seen.

Qatari officials deny that 6500 migrant workers have passed away and say that it’s less. 

In a recent meeting between FIFA and Qatar’s officials, Hassan Al Thawadi, the secretary general of Qatar’s orgazning body, assured FIFA’s president that “significant progress” has been sought through a labour agreement since 2010. 

Qatari officials have also stated this was expected and normal due to the population of these communities. “The mortality rate among these communities is within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population. However, every lost life is a tragedy, and no effort is spared in trying to prevent every death in our country,” the Qatari government explained with a statement. The Qatari official also added to his comment that all the foreign workers have free first class healthcare from the country which has seen a “steady decline” in the death toll of these emigrant labour workers.

In fact, critics say that because the 6,500 number does not include deaths of workers from the Philippines and Kenya, which have not reported this information, the total death tally must be substantially higher.

Image Credit: International Labor Organization/Flickr

2 comments on “Qatar accused of human rights abuses ahead of the 2022 World Cup

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