Since FIFA announced Qatar as the host country for the 2022 World Cup, workers from all around the Middle East have migrated to the area in order to find work in all manner of construction. By the time the tournament rolls around, up to 4,000 of those migrant workers may have died.
A report from the Qatarian government shows that 1,200 migrants from India, Nepal and Bangladesh have died since the notoriously corrupt FIFA began building projects in 2010, with 964 dying between 2012 and 2013. These numbers appear not even to include deaths of workers from other countries such as the Philippines.
As if that were not bad enough, multiple reports also reveal that some of these workers work incredibly long hours in grueling conditions while living in prison-like dorms—sometimes, even, employers seize passports as some kind of control or intimidation tactic.
Despite initial claims, not all of these deaths are linked directly to FIFA and the World Cup. Another statement by Qatar’s government claims that “not a single worker’s life has been lost” in connection with the new construction. But third parties like The Guardian still attribute many of the deaths to the World Cup projects.
Regardless of the particular building project, the global spotlight on Qatar—which the International Trade Union Confederation calls “a country without a conscience”—illuminates the inhumane and often fatal conditions for the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who journey to Qatar each year.
Even though it remains uncertain how many these deaths connect to the World Cup project, these conditions produce a death toll that, by any reckoning, represents a humanitarian crisis.