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Migrant World Cup workers in Qatar reportedly haven’t been paid in a year

Construction helmets are arranged in front of the Qatari embassy in Vienna to commemorate the 1,200 workers who have died during the building of facilities for the 2022 World Cup. (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters)

The FIFA World Cup is back in the news again and not for a good reason. Migrant workers who moved to Qatar to build luxury offices for the 2022 World Cup organizers have reportedly not been paid in over a year. This revelation comes months after a report noted the staggering number of migrant worker deaths connected to the World Cup in Qatar. The Guardian reports:

“Officials in Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy have been using offices on the 38th and 39th floors of Doha’s landmark Al Bidda skyscraper — known as the Tower of Football — which were fitted out by men from Nepal, Sri Lanka and India who say they have not been paid for up to 13 months’ work.”

The wages, the workers told The Guardian, amount to about $10 per day.

“We don’t know how much they are spending on the World Cup but we just need our salary,” one worker told The Guardian after losing a year’s pay on the $4.25 million project. “We were working but not getting the salary. The government, the company: just provide the money.”

To get by, the migrant workers have reportedly been living in squalor on mere pennies per day. The Guardian writes:

“The migrants are squeezed seven to a room, sleeping on thin, dirty mattresses on the floor and on bunk beds, in breach of Qatar’s own labor standards. They live in constant fear of imprisonment because they have been left without paperwork after the contractor on the project, Lee Trading and Contracting, collapsed. They say they are now being exploited on wages as low as 50 pence (85 cents) an hour.”

In response, Qatar’s World Cup organizing committee condemned the actions of Lee Trading and Contracting, telling The Guardian that the committee is “heavily dismayed to learn of the behavior … with regard to the timely payment of its workers. We strongly disapprove and will continue to press for a speedy and fair conclusion to all cases.”

This is the latest accusation to come out over the alleged unfair and sometimes inhumane treatment of migrant workers, who have traveled to Qatar to prepare for the 2022 World Cup.

The Middle Eastern nation has also run into trouble regarding how it won the 2022 bid. After a report came out that accused Qatari officials of offering bribes to ensure votes to get the Cup to the country, FIFA began an internal investigation. That too has received its fair share of criticism after officials announced last week that the report would not go public as planned this month, but instead be passed on to another FIFA committee in September.

These ongoing problems have led many to question whether the World Cup should go on as currently planned in Qatar or be moved to another country. So far, FIFA has stated the tournament will take place in Qatar as planned, but at least one official has called for a re-vote to move the World Cup elsewhere.

The next World Cup is scheduled to take place in Russia in 2018.

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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