Dozens of Nepalese migrant workers have died in recent weeks while working on infrastructure projects related to Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup, according to an investigation by The Guardian.
The report, published today, contends that at least 44 workers from the central Asian country have died in recent weeks while being denied free drinking water and some essential human rights, all in the name of preparations geared toward the World Cup nine years from now.
“We’d like to leave, but the company won’t let us,” said one Nepalese migrant employed at Lusail City development, a $45bn (£28bn) city being built from scratch which will include the 90,000-seater stadium that will host the World Cup final. “I’m angry about how this company is treating us, but we’re helpless. I regret coming here, but what to do? We were compelled to come just to make a living, but we’ve had no luck.”
The body tasked with organising the World Cup, the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, told the Guardian that work had yet to begin on projects directly related to the World Cup. However, it said it was “deeply concerned with the allegations that have been made against certain contractors/sub-contractors working on Lusail City’s construction site and considers this issue to be of the utmost seriousness”. It added: “We have been informed that the relevant government authorities are conducting an investigation into the allegations.”
The Guardian’s investigation also found men throughout the wider Qatari construction industry sleeping 12 to a room in places and getting sick through repulsive conditions in filthy hostels. Some say they have been forced to work without pay and left begging for food.
“We were working on an empty stomach for 24 hours; 12 hours’ work and then no food all night,” said Ram Kumar Mahara, 27. “When I complained, my manager assaulted me, kicked me out of the labour camp I lived in and refused to pay me anything. I had to beg for food from other workers.”
The awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar has been roundly criticized from the day it was announced, with allegations of backroom bribery and corruption to the obvious headscratcher of holding a major, outdoor international athletic tournament in a country whose summer temperatures regularly reach into the 110s.
The chances of FIFA moving the World Cup out of Qatar based on this report are infinitesimally small, if only they have more immediate concerns, like making sure the 2014 World Cup happens without issue.