When FIFA awarded the role of host country to Qatar on 2 December 2010, there were no stadiums, sports facilities, hotels or shops in the tiny emirate.
But – of course – there was no shortage of money, thanks to the oil and gas found in its territory.
So, in recent years, seven stadiums, a new 320 km metro network, as well as an artificial city with dozens of new hotels and the expansion of the HIA CITY airport are under construction.
All wonderful projects. Except that, in order to build them, a massacre of workers is taking place.
Ninety-five per cent of the workforce in Qatar is made up of migrant labour and in the last 10 years some 6,500 workers have died with an average of twelve a week. These are workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, but also from the Philippines, Kenya and Sri Lanka.
At the root of the inhuman, exploitative and violent working conditions until September 2020 in Qatar was the ‘kafala’, a system that can be seen as a modern form of slavery.
This system allows the employer to control the migrants and seize their documents, making them illegal and forcing them to accept any kind of abuse to get them back.
A compulsory minimum wage for all workers came into force on 20 March…
The monarchy was self-exculpatory, never denied the figure of 6,500 dead, but attributed 70% of the deaths to natural causes, without having carried out a single autopsy.
FIFA has aligned itself with this position, unlike some national teams such as Norway, Holland, Germany and Denmark.
Some teams took the field with T-shirts in support of workers and human rights in Qatar.
The words of Tim Sparv, captain of the national football team of Finland, were significant:
- We are only expected to obey and respect the decisions made.
- This cannot continue.
- We want to have an impact also outside the football pitch.
- We have new generations of active and influential footballers.
- We want to be part of the change not only in football, but we must have a place at the decision-making table.
- If this happened, we would not be playing in stadiums during the construction of which workers died.