Qatar Admits That Over 400 Migrant Workers Died Preparing For The World Cup

Photo by THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images

Mary Rooke Commentary and Analysis Writer
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A top Qatari World Cup boss estimated that over 400 migrant workers died building the infrastructure for the world soccer tournament.

In an interview with British journalist Piers Morgan on Monday, Secretary-General of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy Hassan al-Thawadi said that although the numbers as still being finalized, he believes “between 400 and 500” migrant workers died during construction for the World Cup.

From 2014 to 2020, migrant workers built over $200 billion of new construction, including stadiums, hotels, metro lines, and roads, reported CBS news. When Morgan asked what the “honest, realistic” number of migrants who died during the building process is, al-Thawadi responded: “The estimate is around 400, between 400 and 500. I don’t have the exact number. That’s something that’s been discussed.”

Morgan posted a clip of the interview on his official Twitter account, showing their sit-down discussion of the criticism Qatar received over human rights complaints the country underpaid and illegally held onto the passports of the migrant workers who immigrated to Qatar during the World Cup construction. (RELATED: Qatar Signs 27-Year Gas Deal With China, Fueling Global Energy Competition)

Qatar had previously claimed that only 40 deaths occurred while building the tournament’s infrastructure. Only three were listed as workplace incidents; the other 37 were recorded as nonwork-related, like a heart attack or Covid-19, reported CBS. al-Thawadi told Morgan that “one death is a death too many.”

After al-Thawadi’s comments contradicted Qatar’s official numbers, the Supreme Committee released a statement claiming that al-Thawadi had conflated migrant worker deaths with the total number of workplace deaths nationwide in Qatar during the World Cup construction period of 2014-2020.