Hassan Al-Thawadi is the head of the organizing committee of the World Cup in Qatar. This week he was interviewed by British journalist Piers Morgan on his TV show about him, Piers Morgan Uncensored. The interview was aired on Monday and, among other things, the issue of foreign workers employed in the construction of the works necessary to host the World Cup, whose conditions have been discussed for a long time, was discussed.
In recent years there has been talk of hundreds of deaths at work, sometimes even thousands. So far, however, the only official estimate from local authorities was just three deaths. When asked which was a more realistic estimate of all the works relating to the World Cup, Al-Thawadi replied: “The estimates are around 400, between 400 and 500, but I don’t know the exact number.”
Regarding the previous estimates, Al-Thawadi explained that they concerned only the construction sites managed directly by the organizing committee of the World Cup, and were divided into 3 work-related deaths and 37 non-work-related deaths. He then added that he thought even one death was excessive, and that working conditions in the country had improved year after year.
After the interview, the Qatari organizing committee wanted to specify that the estimates cited by Al-Thawadi actually refer to nationwide statistics covering the period between 2014 and 2020 of all fatal occupational accidents, specifically 414.
In order to support not only the assignment of the World Cup, but the urban development of a sparsely inhabited and largely desert country, in the last twelve years Qatar has needed labor from abroad, brought in at low cost from some of the most poor of the world. In this way – and more than what had already happened in the construction of the stadiums for the World Cup in Russia – thousands of workers have been effectively reduced to conditions of slavery since their arrival in the country.
Only in 2020 – that is, with major works almost completed – the Qatari government had finally approved reforms to improve the conditions of the approximately two million foreign workers employed in the country, most of whom come from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.