When thousands of soccer fans prepare their trip to the World Cup that will take place from November 21 to December 18 in Qatar, headlines, reports and international studies continue to make visible the abuses and the thousands of victims who have died building the infrastructure that allows perform the most popular sporting event on the planet.
In an update of the study “Behind the Passion”, carried out by the organization Foundation for Democracy, directed by the activist Guillermo Whpei, it is detailed how since 2010, when Qatar was chosen as the venue for the 2022 World Cup, on average they have died 12 workers per week, mostly immigrants, for a total of nearly 7,000 victims within days of the tournament’s kick-off whistle.
The majority of all the victims are workers from countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, among others, who came looking for the dream of prospering and supporting their families with a job in Qatar, however, they found themselves working hours of up to 15 hours in sub-human temperatures, wage theft, death and abuse.
“It’s going to be the world cup of shame,” explained Guillermo. “An event where the stadiums will be bathed in blood. I don’t know what else is needed to stop the ball and see the problem… I have nothing against the people of Qatar, but I have nothing against its farmers who violate human rights.
The activist was referring to some data found in the investigation revealing that thousands of employees were practically trapped in a job due to the power exercised by the sponsors who contracted their visas, their residence permits and the control of their freedoms within the country.
On top of the risks of work that so far has ended the lives of some 7,000 workers, the government complemented the ‘prison’ of employees with laws that made abandonment of work a crime and punished it by prohibiting the immigrant from returning to enter the country to find employment. In addition, labor abuse intensified with the pandemic, leaving workers confined to their workplaces, many without pay and without the possibility of returning to their countries.
The activist of Argentine origin expressed that everything started badly, since Qatar was chosen as the World Cup venue, since it was at a time when all the corruption of FIFA Gate was discovered and regardless of the fact that Qatar was dragging a series of human rights abuses but who, despite everything, chose the Arab country for the 2022 World Cup.
The tragedy has been of such magnitude that the first time the report came out in 2018, it was taken to Pope Francis to intercede, who sent a letter to FIFA, but so far has had no response. In addition, and due to pressure from organizations and reports from the media or studies, a series of changes have been suggested to the Qatari government to modify its laws and pay more attention to what corporations that violate the rights of workers, but so far there has been no substantial change.
If someone had to be blamed for the tragedy, death and exploitation of the thousands of immigrants, the activist immediately mentioned FIFA for designating Qatar under a halo of corruption and for not guarding the rights of workers. Secondly, he pointed to the Qatari government for allowing this type of slavery of the workers and thirdly, to the construction companies, partners of the Arab government that until now have not shown the slightest commitment and respect for the human rights of the workers.
“If I had to compare this tragedy with another event in history, I would compare it to the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, where FIFA designated a country where it knew there were tremendous problems of corruption and human rights violations, where it governed a dictatorship that ended up leaving 30,000 disappeared,” said the activist.
The report ends its analysis with a series of recommendations to prevent this tragedy from multiplying. Some of the suggestions stress that it is essential that FIFA be actively involved in the process of guaranteeing workers’ rights, that human rights organizations continue to pressure and denounce abuses, and that organizations such as the International Labor Organization ( ILO) intervene actively to make Qatar more transparent and guarantee human rights.
In addition, the governments of the sending and receiving countries of workers are asked to take urgent measures to alleviate the crisis unleashed by the pandemic. It even calls on FIFA and the Qatari government to recognize a historic opportunity to improve the situation that has caused thousands of deaths.
“Our duty is to make these facts visible and continue the fight for those who have no other way to do it,” said Guillermo.
the eternal fight
On the other hand, the activist stressed that some of the pending issues to be resolved by humanity are hunger produced as a result of the tremendous inequality that is currently experienced where 10% of the world concentrates 90% of world currencies and where there are 3,000 millions of people who go to sleep every day without food in their stomachs.
He also mentioned modern slavery, on a planet where there are more than 50 million workers who live and work as slaves producing current supplies such as cell phones, clothing, etc., and, finally, that great need to generate a more human, with people inside and not expelled from the economy.
Guillermo emphasized that knowledge does not come back, and if one, knowing the atrocities committed against the workers, goes ahead, he is an accomplice of what he knows. You cannot go to celebrate a World Cup knowing that for us to enjoy, thousands of workers died or were brutally abused at work. “This is a World Cup where everyone loses,” he concludes.