The International Trade Union Confederation’s recent report showed that if things don’t change, approximately 4,000 people will die while prepping Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.
The stadium and other World Cup related venues in Qatar have been under construction since it was chosen to host back in December 2010. Since then, according to foreign embassies, over 900 workers have died, which is an extremely high death count for this type of project.
To compare, 25 people died during construction for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, and preparations for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil have totaled only six deaths.
However, the head of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee told BBC News that the number of deaths among Indians, approximately 20 each month of 2013 and 27 during the peak of heat in August, was “normal.”
The death count, which at this rate will exceed the number that resulted from 9/11 as reported by Deadspin, is likely because of the employment system in Qatar.
The ITUC’s special report, titled “The Case Against Qatar,” explained the situation. Qatar uses migrant workers from other countries, such as India and Nepal, which is the reason why the death count has been revealed by foreign embassies. Currently, there are 1.4 million migrant workers in the country, and 1 million more are expected to arrive to accomplish the nation’s infrastructure goals. These workers fall under a system called “kafala.”
In kafala, business owners have complete control over workers, and are basically “enslaved,” as the report puts it. Fear of being withheld payment, fired, deported, or kept there, seeing as the employers have complete control over visas, overshadows the workers and prevents them from criticizing dangerous working conditions.
And the working conditions have been incredibly bad so far.
In the ITUC’s report, a manager was quoted saying: “I went on site this morning at 5:00 a.m. and there was blood everywhere. I don’t know what happened, but it was covered up with no report. When I reported this, I was told that if I didn’t stop complaining, I would be dismissed.”
A construction worker reported: “Our contract expired, yet the employer has not paid our salaries between one to three months, nor has he provided end of contract benefits or tickets home. Each time we come to the office, it is always, ‘Come back in a couple of days and you will have your pay and tickets’ […] We have worked hard and just want what is due to us and to go home. We are stuck now in cramped accommodations, with poor food and no clean drinking water. We are treated like animals.”
The ITUC is calling FIFA to require the abolishment of kafala and for Qatar to respect fundamental international rights as a condition for hosting the cup in 2022. ITUC is convinced that if FIFA demands it, “it will happen.”