Safety at the 2022 FIFA World Cup

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The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be hosted in Qatar; thus, preparations have begun in regard to construction of facilities such as hotels and stadiums. This internationally renowned sporting event will boost Qatari infrastructure, economies, and national spirit. But, groups such as the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) have claimed thousands of migrant workers will die before construction is finished and have called for policy that will prevent the exploitation of these workers.

Many workers from countries like India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka have been entering Qatar for employment to join the already 1.2 million-strong migrant workforce present in this country. Although many migrant workers are needed to prepare Qatar for the World Cup, one of the world’s largest sporting events, the current system of employment is deplorable and there needs to be shifts in the workplace.

Unless reforms are made, 600 workers a year could die on building sites due to harsh working conditions and lack of safety protocols.

Recently, 30 workers had fled to the Nepalese Embassy in Doha, Qatar to escape these harsh conditions and subsequently left Qatar after describing their abuses. Many first-hand accounts of these workplace abuses can be recalled by laborers and include having passports withheld in order to prevent them from fleeing, being denied water and their salary, and being forced to work in intolerable heat. Many are equating these abuses to modern-day slavery. In addition to these abuses, workers are also found to be living in insanitary and crowded conditions, resulting in illness.

If employees complain, they have been discharged from their work, left to having to beg for food. With passports and salary withheld, many migrant workers have no choice but to continue to work in such conditions.

Thousands more are complaining to the Indian embassy in Qatar about these conditions. It is reported that more than 700 Indian workers already have lost their lives in these deleterious working conditions in Qatar.

The ITUC stressed the need for significant changes in the workplace in regard to sanitation and safety, as this organization estimates that at least 4,000 migrant workers will lose their lives by 2022 when construction is finished. These working conditions come as a surprise to many, as Qatar is the world’s richest nation in regard to income per capita. Qatar is estimated to spend over $100 billion on infrastructure, hotels, and other facilities for the World Cup.

The ITUC has also commented on the need for FIFA to send a strong message to the Qatari government on how this system of modern-day slavery in unacceptable.

– Rahul Shah

Sources: Middle East Online, Opposing Views, The Guardian
Photo: New York Times

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