Human rights advocates and others have been protesting the World Cup matches while they are taking place, as well as Qatari officials, over what they claim to be violations of the human rights of the hundreds of employees who have been stationed there for the past few months.
Activists claim that everyone from hotel staff to construction workers has been forced to work long hours in the heat with minimal pay and, in some cases, subliminal threats.
Grant Wahl, a veteran sports writer who has covered soccer for a number of publications, including “Sports Illustrated,” looked into some of these claims and found that many employees endure unjust working circumstances.
GRANT WAHL: Once the World Cup began, I was going to travel there, come here, and cover it exclusively with an emphasis on soccer. However, I wanted to write an article and conduct some reporting on the subject of migrant labourers in Qatar first. In Qatar, the labour force is made up of around 90% foreigners. They are travelling from the Indian subcontinent, the Far East, West Africa, and East Africa. And they are taking up jobs in construction, performing domestic labour and housework, working in hotels, and doing all kinds of other things that migrant workers do in Qatar. But historically, they haven’t been compensated well. They receive poor treatment. Many folks have passed away.
Human rights organisations who pay careful attention to this claim that Qataris genuinely don’t care, and that they have demonstrated this by [not] attempting to ascertain the true causes of fatalities. Most deaths are simply labelled as having natural causes. But it goes without saying that Qatar experiences extreme heat all year long.
Many migrant labourers have passed away as a result of the heat and the body’s reactions to it.
The Qatari government has enacted new rules in response to demands. The Qatari government made a big deal out of their announcement in 2019, claiming that they had put a stop to the “kafala” system, which permitted employers to retain the passports of their migrant workers.
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