Is FIFA allowing Qatar to Ignore Human Rights & Working Conditions?
Construction accidents are usually fairly well protected under workers rights laws in the United States, especially places like New York City. But there are also construction workers performing the same type of work in usually much worse conditions under very poor labor laws. A fine modern example of this would be the construction project that is the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Imported migrant workers are struggling to survive under the atrocious working conditions that exist in the desert country. Human rights groups have been protesting FIFA and every organization funding the world competition to be held in Qatar. FIFA has so far aimed to improve working conditions on the premises, but many are skeptical as to how much they really are enforcing.
How it Started
In a fairly unsurprising, but also very astonishing move, FIFA decided to award the hosting rights of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Ever since that happened in 2010, the Qatari authorities got started on constructing state-of-the-art stadiums and venues, adequate for what is a world-wide and month-long tournament. It is worth mentioning that the country of Qatar has never taken anything up even as close as arguably the biggest tournament in the world. Moreover, they never had a single stadium suitable for a world-class soccer match. However, Qatar’s recently discovered wealth put them in an incredibly financial advantage over contenders such as the United States, South Korea, Japan, and Australia.
Ever since then, international workers’ rights were seriously undermined. The government of Qatar quickly began the process of taking in foreign workers from third world countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Kenya, and India. With no regard for their safety, it wasn’t hard to notice that developers placed their priority on quantity over quality. The first wave of workers experienced some of the deadliest construction accidents unbeknownst to Western safety practices. Worse, they could not even seek a lawyer for construction accidents, since they were foreigners in a land that did not welcome their misfortunes as legally credible.
Compensation & Working Conditions
Many even had their passports taken away at arrival, kept hostage by the companies that hired them. They signed away their rights without any interpretation services offered. Payment was not consistent, and some were promised to be paid after a projection was done, but it was not guaranteed that everyone would make it to the end, with risks of injury and even death looming right above. Even in the cases of death, families would have to pay for their loved ones’ bodies to be transported back to their home country, since whatever they signed did not guarantee even a proper transfer.
The second most common cause of serious injury in Qatar is falling from heights. This is by no contentment, represents the hazardous working conditions that exist on Qatari work sites. Workers are often severely dehydrated from the scorching middle eastern sun, and lack proper food, water, and emergency care. Working hours run over what is reasonably suitable for any human being, and are asked to perform tasks outside of their duties, expectations, and pay wage.
Migrant workers already make up over 90% of Qatar’s labor force, which significantly expands the country’s GDP, coming at unequal terms with its exploitive and abusive labor system. No compensation and no justice seem to be the overarching theme of the entire project and global organizations are doing little to penalize Qatar, let alone actually bring aid to the helpless workers.