Category: Current Affairs
Published on Thursday, 28 May 2015 00:00
Written by Cheryl Teo Kai Lin
Ever since the 2022 Qatar World Cup was awarded, it has claimed the lives of 1,200 migrant workers who were worked to death in the US$60 billion building bonanza of 10 stadiums.
Even FIFA president Sepp Blatter has admitted deciding to hold the international event there was “a mistake”, due to scorching summer temperatures which are too hot to play football.
It is highly speculated that FIFA officials were bribed to award Qatar the honor of hosting the 2022 World Cup after it was discovered that Jack Warner, former vice-president of FIFA, was given $1.2 million by a Qatari businessman when the country won the 2022 World Cup bid. The senior FIFA official was allegedly paid by a company controlled by former Qatari football official Mohamed Bin Hammam. The FBI is also investigating a further $750,000 in payments made to Warner's sons and $400,000 to one of his employees.
Football fans were baffled when Qatar was revealed as the location for the 2022 World Cup but now the bizarre decision to host the football tournament in the desert nation might make a lot more sense, if the corruption allegations prove to be true.
1,200 Nepali workers have already died in the construction and campaigners fail that the death toll could reach a staggering 4,000 by the time the event is held.
FIFA faces renewed pressure to show Qatar a World Cup red card following the exposure of mass deaths and vile exploitation of construction workers in the region.
A team of British trade union leaders and MPs warned that the 2022 tournament is being built “on the blood and misery of an army of slave labour”, after uncovering appalling abuse during a visit to the Gulf monarchy.
An investigation by the Mirror into the oil-rich Emirate revealed horrific and deadly exploitation of migrant workers, who are forced to live in grim and squalid conditions, drink salt water and get paid just $0.88 an hour.
Workers who are lured into Qatar with the false promises of high salaries and respectable jobs, regret their decision when they are being ill-treated and exploited.
“We're treated like slaves. They don’t see us as human and our deaths are cheap. They have our passports so we cannot go home. We are trapped,” a Nepalese carpenter said despondently.
For the trapped migrant workers with no way to escape, the scorching heat is just one of the crippling conditions they have to battle day in and day out, with temperatures sometimes hitting a high of 50° C. These workers are also physically beaten and their passports are confiscated by gangmasters.
And as work begins on the 12 World Cup stadiums, between 500,000 and one million more migrants could be flown into the region. The Qataris are sensitive to international criticism and during a meeting with the BWI delegation, the head of the Qatari committee overseeing the World Cup hit back at criticism.
Hassan Abdullah Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, informed the group: “We don’t want people to think we’re an evil country because we’re not.”
The high-ranking official, who lived in Scunthorpe and was educated at Sheffield university, rejected calls for migrant workers to join trade unions.
Fresh proposals on improving conditions are due soon but major doubts persist about whether they will be enforced. Ucatt chair Neil Vernon was taken to a model camp housing 105 migrants working on the Al Wakrah stadium. With two to a room and cafeterias, he said: “It couldn’t be more different from the disgusting labour camps I saw. If every worker was accommodated like this, there wouldn’t be a problem.”
FIFA initially tried to wash its hands of abuse in Qatar but President Sepp Blatter is growing increasingly nervous. Next month he is sending lawyer Dr Theo Zwanzieger there as the clamor grows for the 2022 World Cup be held in another country.
Two Labour MPs on the mission will raise the mistreatment in Parliament. Chris Williamson, MP for Derby North and a former bricklayer, declared: “I was sickened by what I saw. FIFA is under a moral obligation to press the Qatari authorities to end the exploitation.”
Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn added: “How could you enjoy watching a game of football when you know the tournament was built on the blood and misery of an army of slave labor?”
Is the World Cup really worth the suffering and death of thousands of innocents whose only mistake was a hope for better employment?
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