How Many People Died Building the Qatar World Cup Stadium?

February 13, 2024

When Emran Khan watches the football games from Qatar's Lusail Stadium, he doesn't think of the ball or the players or the tens of thousands of cheering fans. Instead he remembers heaving concrete blocks for up to 16 hours a day in the desert's scorching summer heat, and of his colleagues who collapsed or died.

In the years leading up to 2022, Qatar embarked on an ambitious building programme aimed at transforming the country for FIFA's World Cup tournament. That included seven new stadiums, including the iconic Lusail Stadium where the final will be held; major upgrades to public transport and roads; and a whole new city.

Thousands of migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka helped make the World Cup possible. But how many died? The Guardian reported in early 2021 that at least 6,500 migrant workers had died since Qatar won the bid to host the tournament in 2010.

But the figure is likely significantly higher. It does not include deaths from countries like the Philippines and Kenya that also send large numbers of workers to Qatar, nor does it count those who worked on non-stadium construction projects. In addition, the number excludes those who were killed on other types of construction sites, or in transportation accidents or at home, or in hospitals, and it doesn't take into account a growing number of suicides among workers in Qatar.

In an interview with talk show host Piers Morgan this week, World Cup chief Hassan Al-Thawadi said that between 400 and 500 migrant workers died on projects related to the tournament. He added that three work-related deaths and 37 other reasons for death had been attributed to stadium construction, but he did not elaborate further.

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