Despite a successful World Cup, questions have been raised about Qatar’s human rights record. Qatar’s reliance on cheap foreign workers to build the World Cup has led to questions about the health and safety of these workers. These workers are in danger of injury and are not being paid adequately for their work.
A report released by Amnesty International revealed that thousands of migrant workers have died in Qatar during World Cup preparations. According to Amnesty International, subcontractors force workers to work long hours in unsafe conditions. Many have been forced to work in temperatures above 45 degrees Celsius. Some have been forced to work ten hours a day without breaks. Among the reforms introduced to improve the working conditions of migrant workers is a wage protection scheme that ensures employers pay their employees on time.
According to Amnesty International, the “kafala” system – a system that prevents immigrant workers from leaving Qatar and switching jobs without the employer’s permission – has been inadequately enforced. A number of subcontractors have taken passports from unhappy workers. There have also been cases of sexual harassment in police custody and repeated beatings. The report states that many workers are still not receiving the benefits they are entitled to.
In the wake of these reports, ten European football associations – the English Football Association, Wales, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Denmark, and Norway – have all publicly stated their support for human rights. However, some have been criticised for not taking a stronger stand. In response, Amnesty International UK has issued a public call for action against human rights violations in Qatar. The group’s chief executive, Steve Cockburn, said: “We want to see justice for the thousands of migrant workers who were abused during World Cup preparations and for the thousands who died while working on the tournament project.”
Last year, the Guardian reported that 6,500 migrant workers had died in Qatar over the past ten years, despite the country’s claim to be one of the safest places in the world. The Qatari government responded by introducing reforms. These reforms include a wage protection scheme and a new “kafala” system that enables foreign workers to stay in Qatar but prevents them from switching jobs. However, these reforms are often ignored. Many of the reforms are still unenforced, and many migrant workers are still being forced to work long hours in unsafe conditions, as well as to pay for recruitment fees.
Human Rights Watch has released a five-minute video on the issue, which features migrant workers, soccer fans, and family members. The video also highlights the treatment of LGBTQ+ workers. The group documented six cases of repeated beatings and five cases of sexual harassment in police custody. It also highlighted the plight of migrant workers who suffered injury and suffered from wage theft.
The issue is likely to remain in the spotlight during the World Cup finals. The issue of migrant workers is also likely to be raised during NBC’s coverage of the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.