By Tony Attwood
For some time I’ve laid off the topic of slave labour being used in Qatar to build the world cup stadia, and the argument that anyone who is involved in the World cup there is supporting slavery.
But the issue does not go away as the BBC has revealed that over 6,500 “migrant workers” (the code phrase in this context for slave labour) from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar since it won the right to host the World Cup.
The Guardian has covered the story; I am not sure too many other “outlets” have.
This means the Qatari building operation has killed an average of 12 migrant workers from these five countries each week since December 2010 when Fifa (in what is now largely considered to be a fixed vote and is the subject of a legal challenge in the USA) awarded Qatar the world cup. The figures come from the individual countries’ own reports. Each death leaves a family not just bereft, but without its main earner and no compensation.
To add to the horror, many of these workers have paid what for them is a huge sum of money in “recruitment fees” in order to get the job in the first place – fees paid on the promise of an easy office job with regular hours in an air-conditioned environment. Upon arrival, passports are removed and there is thus no escape.
Around 80% of the deaths of the Indian workers are simply recorded as being from “natural causes” – something that is very unlikely given that these are fit young men employed to work on building sites. The natural cause is put down as acute heart or respiratory failure. There is normally no autopsy, and so no evidence.
Although autopsies are now allowed in law in cases of unexpected or sudden death (the law was amended after a lot of protesting by various human rights groups), they are still normally not carried out.
But that is only part of the story because it does not include either the deaths of workers from the Philippines, nor from Keyna, nor of any nationality from October 2020 onwards. And they are still building.
Qatar is of course not a democracy so there is no accountability at all, and its self-perpetuating government now merely says (according to the Guardian) “that the number of deaths is proportionate to the size of the migrant workforce and that the figures include white-collar workers who have died naturally after living in Qatar for many years.”
According to the Guardian, “research has also highlighted the lack of transparency, rigour and detail in recording deaths in Qatar. Embassies in Doha and governments in labour-sending countries are reluctant to share the data, possibly for political reasons. Where statistics have been provided, there are inconsistencies between the figures held by different government agencies, and there is no standard format for recording the causes of death. One south-Asian embassy said they could not share data on the causes of death because they were only recorded by hand in a notebook.”
Of course, the ultimate responsibility for the deaths is a) Fifa and b) every footballing nation that voted for the World Cup in such an inappropriate climate and where the workforce is not protected by the normal rules of human rights and human care, and everyone who gets involved in this world cup.
An anonymous spokesperson for Fifa, has said. “With the very stringent health and safety measures on site … the frequency of accidents on Fifa World Cup construction sites has been low when compared to other major construction projects around the world.”
They offered no evidence to support this statement, and if it were true, one might expect some comparable figures.
My personal view, for what it is worth, is that anyone engaged in any way with the forthcoming world cup, is giving out a statement that she or he finds the preparation of the world cup acceptable. If black lives matter, as obviously they do, so do the lives of the workers engaged in Qatar in building the world cup stadia and the surrounding environment.
The Fifa corruption files
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- Could Fifa really be stopped? Is the unthinkable now actually possible?
- Fifa, “Guilty As Charged.” This MUST be the turning point for Fifa and CAS
- IFAB vs PGMO vs Fifa… who is the most secret (and damaging) of them all?
- Another football scandal looms as law officers raid the German FA’s offices
- Infantino is one step closer to the edge of the cliff, but UK media is still silent
- Fifa in chaos as Infantino’s illegal meetings revealed and chief Swiss lawman resigns
- Swiss prosecutors demand prison for beIN & PSG president and ex-Fifa No 2.
- The stupidest thing said about Arsenal this week
- WSL North London Derby – reflections on the game at the Emirates
- Arsenal have not got the youngest team in the PL. Or have they?
- Arsenal are the most fouled team in the Premier League. Why?
- Partey setback, AFC man hauled off, new C Ronaldo signing, Arteta desperate