At least 1,200 workers enduring slave like conditions have died creating infrastructure in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup that a FIFA executive just claimed won’t be happening, although Qatari world cup chiefs refute this. Theo Zwaniger says that he does not believe Qatar’s climate is mild enough to host the event. Qatar contend that they will be able to cool the stadiums, while Zwaniger maintains that the World Cup goes on in many places other than inside the stadiums, putting tourists at risk.
Temperatures in Qatar can reach up to 125º F, which is quite obviously a danger to public health, and medics say they can’t accept responsibility for these risks. How then did FIFA ignore these facts when they knew full well that the stadiums were being built by workers in these same conditions? It has been projected that by the time all of the stadiums and infrastructure required to host the world cup in Qatar are built, up to 4000 workers will have died during the construction process.
What’s worse is that Qatar has imported at least 90% of the workers who have been building world cup infrastructure, and dying at astounding rates of heat exhaustion and heart attacks. Workers from Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, and the Philippines were recruited in their home countries and sent to Qatar. This is an example of one of the richest countries in the world extracting slave labor from some of the poorest. Workers are caught in huge debts to these recruiters, and are living in deadly conditions, including overcrowded and filthy hostels. They endure unpaid wages, heat exhaustion, and brutality on a daily basis. One year ago, the Guardian blew the whistle on the slave like conditions workers endure in an in depth investigation.
This brings us to the most recent FIFA/Qatar controversy, which involves deep bribery and corruption. Former FIFA executive Mohamed Bin Hammam was implicated in a scandal in which he spent upwards of 5 million dollars bribing senior football officials to get Qatar the bid for the 2022 cup. This means that people died because money was exchanged between corrupt officials, and the lack of common sense that so clearly tells us all that Qatar is not at all prepared to host the world cup.
Once again, FIFA have shown their inability to hold a world cup event without creating tremendous suffering and turmoil. Well over 200,000 people lost their homes to make the world cup happen in Brazil, and over 50 workers died building those stadiums, not to mention all the people killed by Brazil’s brutal military police during the evictions. Since FIFA is an international organization, they are committing these crimes with impunity. There is no criminal court in existence that will try FIFA, Brazilian, and Qatari criminals for the deaths of 1,200 workers, or for the 200,000+ people who were left homeless. We certainly can’t expect the corrupt Qatari authorities, who fund ISIS, use slave and child labor, and who until at least 2011 used trafficked enslaved children as camel jockeys (they claim to have switched to robot jockeys, but we’re skeptical) to prosecute themselves or the people they contract. After all, these are the people who claimed that the deaths of 478 Indian construction workers were “normal.” FIFA will not regulate themselves, Theo Zwanziger himself said last year that the World Cup being held in Qatar will improve the country’s “appalling” human rights record by inviting closer scrutiny. We’ll not see any nations brave enough to stand up to FIFA officials and arrest them for murders and evictions. We’ll also not see the raging football fans of the world stand up to FIFA and boycott them for their crimes, as was proven during Brazil’s world cup, the fans will find a way to apologize for this too. The only thing that’s clear is that it is imperative that the World Cup bid is taken away from Qatar promptly and officially.