Football World Cup: Despite thousands of deaths: Qatar rejects compensation for stadium workers

How many workers have died or been injured on the stadium construction sites for the soccer World Cup in Qatar so far can only be estimated.

Football World Cup: Despite thousands of deaths: Qatar rejects compensation for stadium workers

How many workers have died or been injured on the stadium construction sites for the soccer World Cup in Qatar so far can only be estimated. According to the latest information from human rights organizations, the number of people who died from heat, sudden cardiac death or overexertion alone is more than 15,000. The organizations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have therefore asked the emirate to compensate the families of the deceased stadium workers - and only reaped a mocking comment from the Qatari Minister of Labor.

In a statement, Amnesty and Human Rights Watch are calling for Qatar and FIFA to set up a joint compensation fund of $440 million - the same amount that FIFA is paying out to the participating teams as prize money.

The football association has always publicly emphasized that it is in "ongoing dialogue" with Qatar to set up such a fund. However, with three weeks to go before the controversial World Cup begins, the host nation's tone seems to be getting rougher. Qatari Labor Minister Ali bin Samich Al Marri told the AFP news agency that the human rights organizations' demands were an "advertising stunt." The plan to introduce such a fund cannot be implemented, Marri continues. The Minister of Labor claims that the figures from the NGOs are not transparent. "There are no criteria for setting up these funds. Where are the victims? Do you have the names of the victims? How do you get these numbers?"

A cynical comment, because the host country of the World Cup would actually be responsible for informing the public about the situation on the construction sites and documenting accidents. Instead, since the construction of the stadiums began, the emirate has been trying to sugarcoat the number of victims.

In 2018, the country actually promised to abolish the current kafala system with a view to the World Cup. The arrangement whereby foreign workers are tied to a guarantor who can effectively do with them as he pleases is often referred to as a modern form of slavery. To this day, workers in Qatar keep reporting that their passports are taken away from them upon entry, that they have to live in run-down accommodation and that they receive their salary late or not at all.

The system, which was originally intended to prevent abuse of foreign workers because they were uninsured, has turned into the opposite in recent decades. FIFA also had to admit at the beginning of the year that the World Cup construction sites violate international labor law.

Sources: tagesschau.de, ntv.de, Amnesty International with material from AFP

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