World Cup committee rebukes its own director on worker deaths and ‘corrects’ number

The organization of Qatar World Cup admitted this Tuesday that about 500 immigrant workers died during preparations for the World Cup. The announcement was made by Hassan Al Thawadi, one of the heads of the organization of the competition, in an interview with the British channel TalkTV.

In a press release released after the interview, the World Cup Committee “corrected” its director and said that the figure quoted by al-Thawadi referred to “national statistics covering the period 2014-2020 for all work-related deaths (414) nationwide in Qatar, covering all industries and nationalities.”

The committee also reported that the total number of deaths in the run-up to the World Cup was only 40 people. They say that 37 were considered non-work related incidentssuch as heart attacks, and three of workplace incidents🇧🇷

the british newspaper guardian revealed an investigation in February last year that the death toll would have reached at least 6,500 foreigners🇧🇷 Until the start of the games, Qatar had only recognized 40 deaths in stadium construction, a much lower number than officially announced.

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In 2017, Qatar adopted the minimum wage, reduced hours worked in extreme heat and abolished regulations that limited worker mobility. One of the most important changes made in recent years was the end of the “kafala”, in which employers were responsible for the journey and stay of the worker in the country. Thus, immigrants could not, for example, change jobs. Immigrants lived in barracks and worked in heat of up to 50°C.

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“Each year, security in these locations has improved. A labor reform is needed to make improvements. This is something we recognized before trying to apply for the Cup. The best that was produced was not for the World Cup. We had to do them because of our values,” said Al Thawadi. “The Cup served as an accelerator.”

Protesters demonstrate against the disrespect for human rights in Qatar, which hosts the World Cup.
Protesters demonstrate against the disrespect for human rights in Qatar, which hosts the World Cup. Photograph: JOHN MACDOUGALL / AFP

THE Amnesty International and the NGO Human Rights Watch spearheaded appeals to FIFA and Qatar to create a compensation fund worth US$440 million (R$2.2 billion) for workers killed or injured in preparations for the World Cup. They also accuse the Arab country of failing to properly report the death toll.

Practically the entire infrastructure of the world Cup was built by immigrant workers – of the 2.7 million inhabitants in the host country, only 300 thousand are Qataris and, according to Human Rights WatchOf the immigrants, around 1 million work in civil construction and 1 million in functions such as maids, waiters and chambermaids. The country’s government, however, estimates that the total number of foreign workers is 1.5 million.

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