More than 400 migrant workers have already died during the construction of Doha's World Cup infrastructure, while reports project that the number could reach 4000 by kick-off, prompting many to speculate the 2022 tournament will be relocated.
The decision to host FIFA's 2022 World Cup in Qatar may be the biggest mistake FIFA has ever made. According to a statistical report by Pravasi Nepali Co-ordination Committee, a respected human rights organisation, more than 400 Nepalese migrant workers have died in building sites, with a projected warning that the number could reach 4000 by the tournament's kick-off.
The report is to be revealed this week, and has already been reported by the Observer and the Guardian. The sad truth of the matter is that Nepalese workers only making 20% of Qatar's migrant workforce, so the numbers could be higher than the report shows. The reason for all the death can be traced back to unsafe working conditions and even worse living accommodations. Many of the workers live in overcrowded rooms, often lacking running water, electricity, and proper sewage disposal.
At the heart of the problem is the kafala employment system which is essentially a modern form of slavery where migrant workers are owned by the “sponsor” employers. The article by the Observer tells the atrocious case of Noka Bir Moktan, a 23-year-old that apparently died of a “sudden cardiac arrest.” The photos of his corpse reveals he died of collapsed chest that is apparently consistent with ill-treatment. Moktan comes from a poor Nepalese village, and was sent to Qatar by his father who borrowed 175,000 rupees from a loan shark to pay for his passage and agency fees to Qatar. The money invested was supposed to be returned by Moktan's 'sponsor' but was never reimbursed. To obtain the loan, the family had to put up their two daughters as collateral, and if they don't receive the money then Moktan sisters, aged 14 and 16, will have to be sent to work in a Mumbai brothel to pay back the debt.
With every passing week it seems more an more evidence is collected exposing Qatar as an unsuitable host, and despite FIFA's public claims that they are adamant about making Qatar work out, behind closed doors there seems to be senior officials that believe moving the event is "serious option." According to German newspaper Die Welt, the threat of moving the event is being made by an undisclosed “senior FIFA employee.” With the human rights situation in shambles, the employee believes that a decision will have to be made by the final 2014 meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee where they will decide Qatar's fate. The senior employee believes “there would be enough time for the tournament to be reassigned.” Another Executive Committee member, Theo Zwanziger, publicly labelled the decision as a “blatant mistake."