Remember when Qatar's bid for the 2022 World Cup was surrounded by a bribery scandal? Remember when Qatari officials promised that the hot summer temperatures would not be a problem because they could manipulate the clouds? Remember when it turned out that wasn't possible, pissing off every European soccer league and the TV sponsors in the process by threatening to move the World Cup to winter (the scenario FIFA President Sepp Blatter is now pushing)?
Yes, the 2022 World Cup is shrouded in smoke and mirrors, but one question that wasn't brought up was how the hell could Qatar, a nation with just three stadiums fit for just 92,000 people and only 4,500 square miles to work with, could possibly build these magnificent stadiums in the first place?
A lot of times, stadiums are sold to the public as a boon to the economy, first through the construction jobs necessary to build it and then through the revolving door of customers that will pass through the arena (though this theory remains dubious, it still sounds more plausible that cooling stadiums without air conditioning).
In Qatar, however, it's against the law to provide workers with any rights, and the economic boost will only line the pockets of the elite.
Per Asia News:
In a press release, the ITUC highlighted "contradictions with Qatari law" that fail "to give workers any real rights or protection from slavery conditions."
ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said the visa sponsorship system in Qatar allows the exaction of forced labour. "Under Qatari law, employers have near total control over workers. They alone choose if a worker can change jobs, leave the country or stay in Qatar," she said.
In 2012, the Labour Relations Department in Qatar's Labour Ministry received 6,000 worker complaints. The top concerns facing workers included exploitation, delays in paying wages, violence and work-related safety issues and fatalities.
No wonder this World Cup was so cost-effective. Unless, of course, you were a worker for one of these stadiums.
Per The Guardian:
Qatar's absolute monarchy, run by the fabulously rich and extraordinarily secretive Al Thani clan, no more keeps health and safety statistics than it allows free elections. The Trade Union Confederation has had to count the corpses the hard way. It found that 83 Indians have died so far this year. The Gulf statelet was also the graveyard for 119 Nepalese construction workers. With 202 migrants from other countries dying over the same nine months, Ms Burrow is able to say with confidence there is at least one death for every day of the year. The body count can only rise now that Qatar has announced that it will take on 500,000 more migrants, mainly from the Indian subcontinent, to build the stadiums, hotels and roads for 2022.
Not all the fatalities are on construction sites. The combination of back-breaking work, nonexistent legal protections, intense heat and labour camps without air conditioning allows death to come in many guises. To give you a taste of its variety, the friends of Chirari Mahato went online to describe how he would work from 6am to 7pm. He would return to a hot, unventilated room he shared with 12 others. Because he died in his sleep, rather than on site, his employers would not accept that they had worked him to death. There are millions of workers like him around the Gulf.
Essentially, the bribes that allowed Qatar to either move the World Cup to a different season for the first time or force teams and fans to suffer through 120 degree heat also paid for the rights to work migrant workers to death.
Unless, of course, Qatar and FIFA continue to deny the bribes. Then FIFA just allowed Qatar's authoritarian reign to kill migrant workers for free.