How Many People Died Building Stadiums in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup?

February 12, 2024

With the scandal surrounding corruption within world football's governing body Fifa centering attention on Qatar, it's worth asking how many people have died building stadiums for the 2022 World Cup there. The answer is unclear. Many media reports have cited figures in the thousands, but that figure is misleading and obscures what experts frame as a far bigger problem: appalling living and working conditions for many of the migrants who have come to Qatar from across Asia and Africa to build the tournament venues.

In the past 10 years, Qatar has embarked on an unprecedented construction programme to prepare for the tournament, constructing seven new stadiums from scratch and miles of roads and metro tunnels, along with luxury hotels and a new city. The vast majority of the workers have been migrants from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.

The country's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, which has responsibility for the World Cup, has said there have been three "work-related deaths" at the stadium sites. But the committee has not been clear about what exactly those deaths were and has also been hesitant to give details of all the deaths of migrant workers, even when asked by NBC News.

The inability to understand what's killing workers is a significant obstacle to addressing their plight, according to Nick McGeehan, an investigator for the human rights organisation FairSquare. That's because, he says, most of the deaths go unexplained. There are many reasons for that, including the fact that a large number of deaths have happened at work sites where autopsies are not possible, because cutting up bodies is forbidden in Muslim societies like Qatar.

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