Qatar World Cup preparations may kill 4,000 workers, report says


Qatar unveiled its plans for Doha and World Cup in 2010. (Photo by Qatar 2022 via Getty Images)

Games in Qatar’s World Cup may be years in the distance, but problems continue to be very real and very public.

The latest issue for the 2022 World Cup is an International Trade Union Confederation report that calls Qatar a “country without a conscience” and says that 1,200 migrant workers from India and Nepal have died since Qatar was awarded the games. By the time the games begin, the ITUC estimates that 4,000 of the 1.4 million migrant workers in Qatar will die doing construction related to the games. Since 2010, 400 Nepalese workers have died working on World Cup construction, according to the Nepalese embassy in Qatar, and the Indian embassy reported the deaths of 500 Indian workers in Qatar since 2012.

The ITUC cites living and working conditions in its report, which has been echoed by Amnesty International and other organizations and involved interviews with dozens of workers. “Whether the cause of death is labelled a work accidents, heart attack (brought on by the life threatening effects of heat stress) or diseases from squalid living conditions, the root cause is the same–working conditions,” the report states.

Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, the body overseeing World Cup-related development, disputed the report and mortality numbers in an email to the Wall Street Journal, saying that a section of the ITUC report that covered its activities was “littered with factual errors and attempts to discredit the positive work we are undertaking.”

Last month, Theo Zwanziger of FIFA’s executive committee said the organization would look at claims of improved pay and working conditions by the Qatar World Cup committee and said in a statement:

As the organiser of the FIFA World Cup, FIFA acknowledges its responsibility to look into human rights issues in the host countries of its flagship event. We will continue to look into this matter and work with all stakeholders so that feasible and sustainable solutions are found.

FIFA’s choice of Qatar was controversial because of questions surrounding the selection process as well as the fact that temperatures in the summer are brutal. As for the latter, FIFA intends to vote next year on whether to move the tournament to Qatar’s  winter months.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.

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Cindy Boren · March 25, 2014