The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game

A report, with findings from government sources, by The Guardian has estimated that 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since 2010, when it was first announced as the host country of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. As Qatar prepares to host the tournament later this year, one major issue that has not been properly addressed is the treatment of migrant workers. There are heartbreaking and sickening stories of migrant workers being denied food and water, living in terrible housing conditions, and oftentimes not getting paid on time or at all. Some have their passports and other identity papers confiscated, in effect preventing them from leaving the home of their sponsor and the country. Workers constructing stadiums and other infrastructure for the tournament are exposed to temperatures soaring above 100° F during the summer months. 

According to Human Rights Watch, Qatar has a migrant labor force of over 2 million people, who comprise approximately 95 percent of its total labor force. Approximately 1 million workers are employed in construction while another 100,000 are domestic workers. Migrants from South and Southeast Asia represent a majority of the population of Qatar. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, and Bahrain also rely heavily on migrant workers.

Last week, Amnesty International urged FIFA to set up a compensation fund of at least $440 million for migrant workers who have suffered human rights abuses during World Cup preparations. In the letter to the FIFA president, Amnesty accused the Qatari government of failing to investigate the causes of deaths of thousands of migrant workers since construction began. 

Since 2010, FIFA has been criticized for its decision to host the World Cup in Qatar, from allegations of corruption to the rights of the LGBT community. The extreme heat in the summer has forced the tournament to be held in November, which would interfere with the regular season schedules of some domestic leagues around the world.

In response to allegations of inhumane treatment of migrant workers, the Qatari government and World Cup organizers have continuously stated that they have “worked tirelessly with international groups for the rights of workers on stadiums and other tournament projects.”

This blog post is part of the CIMA Law Group blog. If you are located in Arizona and are seeking legal services, CIMA Law Group specializes in Immigration Law, Criminal Defense, Personal Injury, and Government Relations.

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