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  • Writer's pictureIWW Ireland

QATAR 2022: Profiting From Slave Labour!

The first match of the upcoming FIFA World Cup will kick off in Qatar on November 21st, 2022. It should be a cause for celebration for hundreds of millions of football fans worldwide. But this time around, we can’t celebrate. Not when so many workers died and were abused in Qatar, while FIFA and their corporate sponsors neglected to protect them.

A recent report by The Guardian revealed that over 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar between 2010 and 2020. Many of them travelled to work after Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup and started building stadiums and infrastructure necessary to support the world’s biggest sporting event. Figures reported by The Guardian include only official data and only from a handful of countries, so the actual death toll of the run up to the World Cup is much higher.

World Cup’s organising committee claims there were only 37 deaths among workers directly linked to construction of the stadiums. This is a gross underestimate. 69% of deaths of workers from the five countries mentioned in Guardian’s report were written of as ‘natural causes’ but those classifications are often made without an autopsy. The organising committee’s numbers plays down the risks migrant workers face in Qatar and how little FIFA has done to address that.

There are 2 million migrant workers in Qatar, making up most of the country’s population. For years, report after report revealed the way they were treated in Qatar. Many worked 10 hours shifts in 40+ degree heat, lived in squalid accommodation with limited access to food and water, and had their wages withheld and passports confiscated by employers. In 2017, the UN’s International Labour Organization stepped in and forced Qatari authorities to introduce laws designed to improve worker’s conditions and abolish the kafala system, which ties the worker’s visa to their employer. But last year’s report from Human Rights Watch reveals that the promised reforms either didn’t happen or were rolled out in too limited fashion to make a dent in the scale of abuse happening in Qatar.

FIFA predicts it will bring $4.7B in revenue in 2022. Much of it will come from broadcasting and sponsorship fees for the World Cup. Coca-Cola, Budweiser, and VIVO have already signed up as sponsors for the upcoming World Cup. They will promote their brands on the back of exploited workers, thousands of whom died in Qatar. The conditions Qatari authorities and companies have subjected workers to are nothing short of slave labor. FIFA and their business partners not only didn’t do nearly enough to stop that, they now want to reap rewards for it.

The commercial success of the 2022 World Cup is going to be paid for in blood of migrant workers. We cannot stand for that and we cannot stand for governments and corporations sports-washing the harm they inflict on workers and their families.

An injury to one is an injury to all.


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