World Cup 2022: Qatar and human rights


Since November, 20th, the World Cup is going on. Four years after the last one in Russia, the biggest football event in the world is back, for the first time in the winter. The best national teams in the globe are in Qatar and human rights are already the biggest losers of a competition that will know its winner next December, 18th.

Twelve years ago, the United States were the favorites in the race to host the 2022 World Cup. Nevertheless, Qatar, a country with no tradition of football, without the stadiums or the infrastructure needed to host an event of this magnitude, and also with an extreme climate, won the final voting. The suspicions and posterior evidences about gifts, bribery and secret meetings with FIFA members, are the starting point of a journey that started in 2010 and that has created more shade than light ever since.

What workers rights didn’t Qatar respect?

Qatar has spent around 200 billion euros to prepare this World Cup. During the last twelve years, 7 out of the 8 stadiums, besides other important constructions, have been built thinking about this event.

The manpower Qatar has used is the cheapest one they could. There are several reports of a complete absence of dignified employment nor minimal security conditions. Workers from countries with little resources or population in poverty, such as Kenya, India, Philippines, Nepal or Pakistan, have been the employees to ‘create’ this World Cup. Many of them have died for it. Big media outlets and NGOs say there could be thousands of deaths related to the event in Qatar, and human rights organizations are still denouncing it.

Al-Janoub, one out of the seven stadiums built specifically for the World Cup in Qatar.

These are some of the unacceptable practices that workers report:

  • Working under extreme temperatures. In Qatar, during several months a year, temperatures are around 40 degrees. Sometimes, they go higher than 50. Without a doubt, one of the main risks for the health of these employees.
  • Abusive schedules. Workers complain that they worked many more hours than their contracts stated. Sometimes they weren’t even allowed to rest enough. They got sick, injured, and sometimes even died due to it. And, of course, they didn’t receive a compensation for the extra time.
  • Large hiring commissions. To work in Qatar, some companies charged big commissions –sometimes even 10 times bigger than the salaries– to the workers. The excuse to do so was the processing of work permits.
  • Subtraction of passports. Some workers have said they were revoked of their residence cards, or they didn’t have them renewed by their employers. Due to their fear of getting caught by authorities, they didn’t move far from the facilities where they worked and lived. Other times, the employers subtracted their passports when they arrived to Qatar. And used them to blackmail the employees.
  • Delay in payments. Salaries didn’t always arrive on time. This was especially serious since many of them had to pay back the credits they had asked for to pay the commissions. Also, the money they wanted to send to their families arrived late, putting in danger and unsettling the economies of the affected workers.
  • Low and untrue salaries. Some employees claim the employers offered him 300 dollars a month. Not only a low quantity, but also not true. When they arrived in Qatar, some earned less than 200 dollars.
  • Unsafe and unhealthy conditions. There are images of small rooms filled with beds. 8 workers could sleep in just one room. The lack of minimal dignified conditions and of healthy concerns shows the consequent lack of respect for workers rights in Qatar.

What other human rights does Qatar not accomplish?

Beyond the indecent conditions that have meant the death of hundreds of workers during the last few years, Qatar’s regime, that compromised to advance regarding human rights, it’s still very far away from the majority of the world.

Women depend legally and in practice of men. Men have to give permission to their daughters of wives to carry out completely normal actions in Occident.

Freedom is also a utopia for the LGBT community. Being homosexual in Qatar means 3 to 10 years in prison. During this World Cup, the event where the country wants to clean its image in front of the world, FIFA has prohibited, the captains of 7 national teams, under the threat of an economic sanction and a yellow card, to wear a bracelet with the motto ‘One Love’.

The gesture and the example of Iran

Despite prohibitions and other obstacles to exercise basic liberties, Qatar’s World Cup is being a stage for necessary demands. Iran fans have been showing signs with messages in favor of the revolts for women’s rights in their home country.

Even the players decided to take part. Before their first match, against England, they decided not to sing their national anthem. While in Qatar there is not equality, despite the promises of progress… Iran is using the World Cup to fight for more justice and same rights for women and men.

Iran players didn’t sing their national anthem against England, as a gesture of support to the protest in their country (Image: EFE).

New Tandem, in favor of human and workers rights

At New Tandem, we compromise with equality. We wish and work for the progressive consecution of a fairer, cleaner, more equal and more sustainable world. Qatar’s World Cup is surrounded by huge actions against those values. We celebrate the news around the world about those unjustices. And we regret that sports, whose physical, psychological and social benefits we defend, get mixed with the terrible practices that happened in the Arab country since 2010.

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