World Cup Uncovers Controversy in Qatar

By Gibran Williams, age 11 and IndyKids staff

Originally published Nov. 2, 2022

Every four years, the world comes together for the FIFA World Cup. This year the event is taking place in Doha, Qatar, from Nov. 20 to Dec. 18. In preparation for the World Cup, Qatar has built seven stadiums, an airport, a new metro system, a series of new roads and around 100 hotels. However, human rights organizations have voiced concerns over labor practices in Qatar. In August, more than 60 foreign workers employed for the World Cup preparations were arrested, and many deported, for protesting unfair working conditions and unpaid wages.

According to Amnesty International, an estimated 1.7 million foreign workers live in Qatar, making up 90% of their workforce. Often from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal or Sri Lanka, each person typically pays fees of up to $4,000 to work legally in Qatar. Some of those arrested in August had reportedly gone as long as six months without pay. Many foreign workers live in substandard accommodations and have their legal documentation removed by their employers, according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. 

Kafala, a practice where employers trap workers in their jobs by tying their immigration status to their employer, is now illegal. But Amnesty International says companies in Qatar still pressure workers to stop switching employers, which they say means forced labor still exists in Qatar. 

Since 2010, 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar, according to the Guardian.

Since 2010, 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar, according to the Guardian. Human Rights Watch stated that most of these foreign workers died from extreme heat conditions and poor working and living conditions. In Qatar, temperatures can reach up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. 

As Qatar’s troublesome labor practices have come under increased public scrutiny, many hope this negative attention will bring more progress and improve conditions for those working in Qatar. “[The World Cup] should definitely go on. But I think people should be more aware of what’s going on,” explains labor rights activist Malcolm Bidall.

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