As preparations for the 2022 World Cup are kicking into full force we are seeing a rise in migrant workers deaths as FIFA officials are indicted in federal court.
As Qatar makes plans and starts building the infrastructure to host the 2022 World Cup, in a bid that has caused controversy worldwide. The Washington Post has reported that migrant worker deaths are on the rise. In a country that doesn’t have the cleanest track record when it comes to human rights this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The conditions in which migrant workers are expose to are so bad that the International Trade Union Confederation(ITUC) has deemed the state “a country without a conscience”.
The above chart shows the total of migrant workers deaths and not just those associated with the World Cup since Qatar won the bid to host the World Cup in 2010. It’s almost impossible to determine which deaths are associated with the World Cup directly. These figures have been denied by the countries organizing committee stating “No one has died on World Cup projects”,”The International Trade Union Confederation report is littered with factual errors and attempts to discredit the positive work we are undertaking”. Migrant workers come to Qatar by the 100,000’s every year from all over the world, with most coming from south Asia mainly Indian and Nepalese. India has reported that 450 of it’s citizens’ died in the previous 2 years in Qatar. Nepal reported that 191 had died in 2013 and another 169 in 2012. If drastic improvement is not implemented the ITCU projects that more than 4,000 can die by the 2022 tournament.
Migrant workers in Qatar are trapped in a system known as “kafala” which is used to monitor the workers. Under this system it requires all unskilled workers to have an in-country sponsor which is usually their employer, who then take responsibility for their visa and legal status. This practice creates easy opportunities for the workers to be exploited with next to no legal protections for the workers. There have been reports of workers who have had their passports taken by their employer, living in squalid conditions for barely a living wage, essentially enslaving them to their employer.
In a country that has no soccer culture and summer temperatures that surpass 100 °F(38 °C) and often approach 113 °F(45 °C), the decision was a shock to the international community. Rumors swirled when Qatar was awarded the World Cup in 2010, that they had bribed their way to hosting the 2022 World Cup. In a surprise move this week the U.S Justice Department unsealed an indictment in Federal court in Brooklyn containing 47 counts against 14 people. Charges include racketeering, bribery, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy. The FBI had been investigating FIFA for years. At least 6 current or former FIFA officials were arrested on Wednesday in Zurich, plans are being put in place to begin extradition to the United States. Current FIFA President Sepp Blatter wasn’t named in the indictment. Blatter is up for re-election this week for the top job. Will he be able to survive this vote? Blatter has been mired in scandal since he was elected president in 1998, where he is alleged to have bought votes to ensure his victory.
FIFA has had it’s fair share of scandals dating way back to the 70’s. Ranging from human rights violations to fixed elections. Hosting the World Cup comes at a huge cost for the host nation and not FIFA itself and often detrimental to the citizens of that country. The past two cups have been held in developing countries with high level’s of poverty. In 2010 South Africa spent nearly $4 billion. Brazil far surpassed that in 2014 spending $15 billion. This is money that could have been used to better support the citizens of the country as most viewed the World Cup as a waste of money, causing protests leading up to the event. The only people that benefited from the event was FIFA itself profiting nearly $4 billion, with little to no benefit for the host country itself.
What are your thoughts? Should Qatar be allowed to host this event in light of these allegations? Does FIFA need more international oversight?