There are 1.4 million migrant workers in Qatar — the tiny, oil-rich Arabian peninsula that won the right to host the 2022 World Cup.
Many of these workers came from poor regions of southeast Asia, and they work under an archaic system called kafala that human rights watchers call “modern-day slavery.” These workers can’t leave the country without an exit visa. And they can’t get an exit visa without their employers’ approval.
The International Trade Union Confederation estimates that 4,000 of them will die working in Qatar before the opening game of the 2022 World Cup.
ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap traveled to Qatar and did a fantastic feature that aired on E:60 in May.
He visited a migrant camp on the outskirts of Doha, and found workers living in squalor.
The camp from afar:
A hallway filled with rubble:
The entrance to the camp:
These men are forced to work long hours in the sun. As a result, they’re dying of cardiac arrest at an abnormally high rate. The Indian embassy says 241 workers from India died in Qatar in 2013. The Nepalese embassy says 185 workers from Nepal died last year. The ITUC estimates that that number will stretch into the thousands in the coming years
While the Qatari government maintains that no workers have died on World Cup projects (ground has yet to be broken on all but one of the stadiums), everything is effectively a World Cup project in Qatar.
It’s a nation of 200,000 people tasked with building a hospitality, transportation, and sporting infrastructure that takes other countries decades to build. And they’re doing it with scores of poor, mistreated migrants from Asia who can’t leave.
Amid mounting criticism, the Qatari government gave ESPN these photos of the newly-built housing complex that it says workers will use when construction on World Cup stadiums gets going:
Watch the full ESPN report here:
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