We already knew that construction workers on Qatar’s 2022 World Cup stadium were dying at a frightening rate and held in the country under slave-like conditions, but we didn’t have, say, an Amnesty International report outright comparing conditions to slavery. Until now:
Rights group Amnesty International has accused Qatar of using forced labour at a flagship World Cup 2022 stadium.
Amnesty says workers at Khalifa International Stadium are forced to live in squalid accommodation, pay huge recruitment fees and have had wages withheld and passports confiscated.
It also accuses Fifa of “failing almost completely” to stop the tournament being “built on human rights abuses”.
You can download the Amnesty report, “The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game,” here; it’s long and detailed, so let me just cite two excerpts:
Amnesty International interviewed 132 of the men working on Khalifa Stadium. When Amnesty met them they were living in cramped and unhygenic labour camps. Many described how they had paid large sums of money and taken on debt in their home country in order to get a job in Qatar but were now being paid less than they had been promised. All of the men had their passports confiscated by their employers and some were denied an exit permit when they wanted to return home. In some cases the treatment amounted to forced labour.
“My life here is like a prison. The work is dif cult, we worked for many hours in the hot sun. When I rst complained about my situation, soon after arriving in Qatar, the manager said ‘if you [want to] complain you can but there will be consequences. If you want to stay in Qatar be quiet and keep working’. Now I am forced to stay in Qatar and continue working.” —Deepak, metalworker on Khalifa International Stadium, a FIFA 2022 World Cup venue, speaking in May 2015
This is a big enough deal that even Al Jazeera, which is actually owned by members of the Qatari government, felt obligated to cover it. Meanwhile, FIFA, which granted Qatar the 2022 tournament after massive bribery in the bidding, continues to insist that it won’t move the cup to another nation that’s less slavey. This is going to get really ugly — not that pretty much all big sporting events like the World Cup and Olympics don’t get really ugly, and usually everyone forgets about it as soon as there’s some games to watch, but this seems like it might actually be the exception, maybe.