Complex Made Simple

Qatar whistled for personnel fouls 1 year ahead of FIFA World Cup 2022

Doha,qatar

The global event has been mired from the word go in 2010, but especially now on the eve of the spectacle, speaking in relative terms

Qatar has faced allegations of bribery and corruption in the bidding process Qatar says it has made significant labor reforms to protect a migrant workforce of about 2 million Migrant workers claim they are struggling to survive on wages of £1 ($1.34) an hour

Qatar World Cup 2022 is only 1 year away now. The opening match will be played on November 18, 2022, at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al-Khor, located north of the capital Doha, with the final taking place on December 18, coinciding with Qatar’s national day. The 2022 World Cup will be played across eight stadiums altogether.

Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary-general of the supreme committee, said Qatar’s spending on infrastructure since 2010, including the new metro system, is projected to be $200 billion, and direct costs of the World Cup reached $6.5 bn.

Al Rayyan stadium

And while all this should be a source of pride and joy for the region, being the first-ever to be hosted in the Middle East, the global event has been mired from the word go in 2010, but especially now on the eve of the spectacle, speaking in relative terms.

Claims of corruption

Since being awarded hosting rights, Qatar has faced allegations of bribery and corruption in the bidding process. Very few believed Qatar’s winning bid made any sense, leading to a FIFA governance overhaul and the 2016 election of Gianni Infantino as president.

Whatever the truth of allegations made in a 2020 US court indictment that three South American FIFA chiefs were paid, former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter himself has always maintained that the crucial votes resulted from high political influence, not backroom machinations.

Lusail stadium

In what could only be labeled as ‘suspicious circumstances,’ British media The Guardian described how then UEFA President Michel Platini voted for Qatar rather than the USA after he was invited to lunch with then his country’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, now the emir of Qatar, in the Élysée Palace nine days before the FIFA vote.

Deals flowed afterward: Qatar Airways bought 50 planes from Airbus and Qatar began mega-funding French football. The sovereign wealth fund Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) bought Paris Saint-Germain in 2011, with billions of investment fueling PSG into a super-club.   

Labor issues

Qatar says it has made significant labor reforms to protect a migrant workforce of about 2 million people, migrant deaths and other human rights challenges were cause for concern and indignation from many.

Qatar’s World Cup stadia workers, who typically hail from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Philippines, and Kenya, would typically travel by bus on trips lasting hours at and temperatures regularly reaching nearly 40 °C, according to NBC.

A recent report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) said 50 migrant workers across all sectors died in work-related accidents last year and that there were 38,000 work-related injuries, 500 of them classed as severe. The report didn’t specify how many were related to the World Cup.

Amnesty International has alleged that Qatari authorities had failed to investigate thousands of migrant deaths over the past decade, some even before World Cup projects began, while suggesting that some of the deaths were linked to unsafe working conditions. 

Qatar disputes the findings and argues that the mortality and safety statistics for migrant workers are in line with international standards. 

The Qatari Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy of the 2022 World Cup, which the government created in 2011, says there have been just 38 deaths since 2015 among migrants working on official tournament projects, 35 of which were classed as “non-work-related.”

Soccer’s international governing body, FIFA, said in a statement that the World Cup has contributed significantly to labor conditions across Qatar through the Supreme Committee’s Workers’ Welfare Program.

“The robustness of this program has been recognized repeatedly by experts and trade unions over the years, and as stated in a recent U.N. report, constitutes ‘impressive changes’ and ‘sweeping reforms’ within the country,” said Alois Hug, a FIFA spokesperson.

Passports and wages

Migrant workers claim they are struggling to survive on wages of £1 ($1.34) an hour, working or building some of the World Cup nearby hotels, The Guardian reports.

The UK media stayed at or visited seven of the hotels listed on FIFA’s hospitality website and in interviews and conversations with more than 40 workers, it uncovered a number of allegations of serious labor rights violations and low wages.

Many workers alleged they worked extremely long hours, with some saying they had not had a day off for months. While they spent their days surrounded by the most luxurious of settings, some workers said they were housed in overcrowded rooms in stifling labor camps. A few workers claimed their passports had been confiscated. Many said their employer would not let them change jobs. It is illegal for employers to keep workers’ passports in Qatar.

While rooms in the hotels listed on FIFA’s hospitality site are charged at up to £820($1,100) a night, almost every worker the Guardian spoke to employed in housekeeping, security, valet service, cleaning, or gardening said they earned less than £1.25 ($1.68) an hour, and many were working for less than £1 an hour.

Workers made multiple allegations of breaches of Qatar’s labor reforms. These promised an end to abusive working conditions and the kafala sponsorship system that meant workers could not change jobs or leave the country without their employer’s consent.

While most workers the Guardian spoke to received salaries in line with the new minimum wage, which came into force in March 2021, that wage still equates to only £1 an hour plus a small allowance for food and board.

Some workers across the seven hotels did they were happy with their jobs and the staff accommodation provided by their hotels. Yet the majority said they felt trapped.

A few hotels demonstrated good practice by recruiting their staff directly through online adverts, rather than through labor agents who often extract extortionate and illegal fees from recruits.