How Many People Died Making Qatar Stadiums?

January 26, 2024

When Bangladeshi worker Emran Khan watches the World Cup, he doesn't think of the players or the tens of thousands cheering fans. Instead, he thinks of the time he spent heaving concrete blocks for up to 16 hours a day in the scorching heat. And he remembers the men who died.

Qatar has invested heavily in preparing for the 2022 World Cup. The Gulf nation has built seven brand-new stadiums and renovated another eight, along with a series of upgrades to roads and public transport and a new city, Lusail, which will host the final. And it has done so with thousands of migrant workers.

The World Cup organizing committee says only three people have died in incidents directly related to construction of the stadiums. But the official count excludes many migrant deaths attributed to "natural causes," including heart failure and respiratory ailments triggered by hard work in Qatar's searing heat.

As Qatar worked to meet FIFA's demands, human rights groups and news media reports alleged violations in its construction industry. Workers complained of wage theft, restrictions on their movement and living conditions. In response, the committee established its own workers' welfare standards, ensuring that construction sites for World Cup venues provided cooled rest areas, hydration stations and full meals for laborers. But the committee limited its oversight to World Cup-related projects, and the 95 percent of migrant workers erecting other buildings and infrastructure never saw these improvements.


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