Football (Soccer) World Cup 2022

FIFA has awarded the World Cup 2022 to Qatar.  And that has led to stories such as this in “Deadspin”:


The logistical problems that are already plaguing the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are myriad, but planning for the event presents even bigger problems than trying to figure out how to play soccer in 120-degree temperatures. Namely, the deaths of hundreds of migrant workers who are building infrastructure for the World Cup in slave-like conditions.

Qatar is a country that was built on the backs of migrant workers from places like Nepal and India, and as The Guardian’s Nick Cohen points out, it’s those same workers who will be responsible for building the roads and stadiums that will be necessary to host the World Cup. These workers live and work in hellish conditions, and are already dying in droves:

“More workers will die building World Cup infrastructure than players will take to the field,” predicts Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation. Even if the teams in Qatar use all their substitutes, she is likely to be right.

Qatar’s absolute monarchy, run by the fabulously rich and extraordinarily secretive Al Thani clan, no more keeps health and safety statistics than it allows free elections. The Trade Union Confederation has had to count the corpses the hard way. It found that 83 Indians have died so far this year. The Gulf statelet was also the graveyard for 119 Nepalese construction workers. With 202 migrants from other countries dying over the same nine months, Ms Burrow is able to say with confidence there is at least one death for every day of the year. The body count can only rise now that Qatar has announced that it will take on 500,000 more migrants, mainly from the Indian subcontinent, to build the stadiums, hotels and roads for 2022.

The logistics will always be worked out.  But the moral dimension of the dead migrant workers will not.  It is true that working conditions in these workers’ native countries are abysmal.  But one should also bear in mind the population density, poverty and poor infrastructure in their native lands.  What is the excuse for Qatar – an extremely wealthy country?  Why did FIFA award them the World Cup in the first place?  Perhaps the only silver lining, if one could call it that, is that the increased exposure from the World Cup has started bringing to light such stories, that most people do not (or would rather not) know.

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