The Qatar World Cup controversy continues to grow every day, and as the stats and data continue to flow out to the public eye the people are starting to speak out against corruption, and demand justice. However, has Qatar and FIFA damaged the reputation of football permanently? Just how bad is the situation over there? Are all the rumors true? Listen to the data and numbers I have obtained,along with a personal account from a former football figure and decide for yourself.
Chances are, If you aren’t following much of global news, or much of a football fan you probably haven’t heard much about Qatar’s FIFA World Cup for 2022, it’s okay though, not many have. In Australia especially it’s been blatantly ignored by most media outlets and even overseas most of the news coverage is limited to the internet versions of their news outlets. In that case, if the media is ignoring it, that means it mustn’t be very important right? Wrong. The world seems to be turning a blind eye to thousands of Migrant workers being abused and dying in the process of constructing a city unfit for the FIFA World Cup, but somehow was given it. To save the trouble of extensive research, I’m going to provide a quick rundown of the facts and figures of what’s going down in the small South-West Asian country.
So far the campaign to date has been the most expensive budget for a world event in history with the estimated final costs of around 200 billion dollars to be spent on their world club developments, with a population of approximately 2 million people this equates to over 100,000 dollars per citizen and even though they claim to be building everything from scratch, this figure is still considered excessive to observers all around the globe. This figure seems especially disproportionate when compared to the last two world cups, where Brazil spent around 14 billion US for their 2014 hosting, and South Africa spending 2.7 billion dollars.
When construction first began for the World Cup, worker advocacy groups and human rights organisations were already letting their voices be heard, voicing concerns about the conditions the workers will be exposed to and if these workers had access to the protections that they are entitled to. An independent investigation conducted by the Guardian in 2014 made a claim that Nepalese migrant workers were dying at a rate of one person every two days and gave direct causation of this to the construction of the stadiums. However, as one would assume in an attempt to cover their backs the Qatari government declared that there have been no deaths in regards to the stadium.
However, a report commissioned by the Qatari government showed 964 deaths of migrants from India, Nepal and Bangladesh in 2012 and 2013. Something to consider from this is that the report did not includes deaths from places like the Philippines and Sri Lanka, which although have smaller numbers of workers, are still very significant when making accurate statistics. The poor treatment resulting in deaths is nothing new however, as even without a World Cup, hundreds of workers would die anyway on other jobs. An alarming estimate had been released by the International Trade Union Confederation where they have stated that approximately 1,200 deaths have occurred in recent years, and could possibly reach 4,000 by the time the world cup kicks off in 2022.
One of the major issues in the treatment of these workers comes down to a “sponsorship” system in the Middle East that undermines the balance between employer and worker known as “Kafala”. Kafala, rather than being a law, is more of a tradition around that area and originated in the 1930’s and originally was the best tradition of Arab hospitality, but is now used to exploit workers by the employers, or “Kafeels”. The dominant issue in this system is that the worker cannot leave the workplace or even leave to visit family or friends without written consent from the kafeel, which can ultimately result in having them trapped under them as workers, unable to escape. Kafeels are also known to withhold payments, and make charges on the workers and label them as “recruitment costs”. Finally as one of the main negative factors in the Kafala system is the fact that the Kafeels can retain foreign workers passports and identity documents which can lead to, and has in many cases, force labour. Under this workers can then be forced into working in worse conditions and longer hours than outlined in the law. Although by law workers can complain to authorities, many don’t as they know it will result in severe punishment.
A lot of these rumours and suspicions came true when one visitor was smuggled inside one of the worker camps to monitor the conditions and came out with some not surprising, but very concerning observations. He compared the workers to sardines as to how tightly they were stuffed into rooms, with up to 12 in one room at a time, and observing the general filth and unhygienic state of the camp. A particularly distressing quote he used to describe the workers he met in there was “The look in their eyes – It’s a blank look of helplessness”, “It’s inexcusable”. Rumours about appalling pay were also confirmed when investigations revealed that there were workers receiving as little as fifty dollars per day their work, with no or very limited overtime, with some complaining of being held back on payments for up to 9 months which resulted in them starving.
So as it can be seen, there is a lot of issues and troubles with this campaign, and attention needs to be brought to it to a larger extent before more people are abused, or even worse, die, just trying to make money.
Whilst reporting and writing on the abuses of Human rights are important, in order for the people to fully understand I have decided on making a post with an infograph to really show what’s going on in colour. (Click to enhance size)