Qatar faces backlash for treatment of World Cup workers


Photo Courtesy of Flickr user Animated Heaven.

Kaylee Donnelly, Senior Writer

While the World Cup is an exciting event for many, what may also be of interest is where it’s being held. This year, the event takes place in Qatar, which has spent billions of dollars on the construction in preparation for the event. 

For background, the World Cup is set to begin in just a few weeks with the first official game taking place on Nov. 20. 32 teams were placed in eight groups of four nations, with the top two teams in each group advancing to a round of 16, followed by a quarterfinals, semifinals and the final. Brazil currently holds the number one spot, holding a lead over Belgium in the rankings. The United States is currently ranked number 16.

Qatar’s preparation for the World Cup has become the object of scrutiny for many, particularly in regards to their treatment of its workers and civil rights. 

Some may argue this event is simply about soccer, but for many, it’s more than that. Since the beginning of construction in 2011, shortly after the announcement of the World Cup in Qatar in 2010, thousands of migrant workers have died in what is dubbed the “Aspire Zone.” 

This zone includes not only the construction of seven new stadiums, but also includes hotels, a new airport, new roads and public transportation systems. This billion dollar project is practically funding a new city for the World Cup.

Approximately 6,000 workers, mostly from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died since the beginning of the Aspire Zone’s construction. These numbers do not include migrants from other countries, like the Philippines and Kenya, as well as numbers past the end of 2020. 

Qatar is also known for their lack of reporting on the treatment and health of their workers. 

What is known is that the conditions they live in are quite poor, with unsanitary and unsafe accommodations. In addition, salaries are often withheld from workers and passports are confiscated so the workers have to remain for the entire duration of the construction. 

The heat in Qatar is also cause for speculation, as many workers develop heat stress related problems. This is another issue that has been brought up with the hosting of the World Cup in Qatar this year.

Environmentalists have been complaining about the CO2 emissions associated with the stadiums being air conditioned, however it seems like a health precaution necessary for players’ to compete in the blazing heat, even if this luxury has clearly not been extended to the workers creating it. 

Some cities in Europe are refusing to open their fan spaces due to these labor and environmental violations. There has also been a great deal of verbal and media objection to the event still being held in Qatar in light of the many human rights violations that have come out of it. 

Qatar believes the criticism against them hosting is unjustified, and claims that many of these human rights violations are fabricated. Several investigations and witness testimonies tend to prove otherwise.

Qatar’s extreme dedication to the event seems apparent, through the billions of dollars being invested, but the methods in which it is being completed are questionable at best.

This is not a call for people not to watch the World Cup, though it may be difficult for many Americans to watch with games airing as early as five a.m., but it is a call for people to be aware of what goes on behind the scenes of massive undertakings such as the World Cup.

FIFA and companies involved will receive large financial gains from this event, but for those on the ground the cost can be, and has been much, much greater.

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