The Qatari government has issued an extraordinary rebuttal to claims that its winning the right to host the 2022 World Cup will come at the cost of thousands of migrant workers’ lives.
Fifa’s decision to award the tournament to the Middle Eastern nation is being reviewed as part of a criminal corruption probe by the Swiss authorities, and there have been renewed calls for the decision to be revoked after Sepp Blatter tendered his shock resignation.
But after the Washington Post ran an article entitled “The Human Toll of Fifa’s Corruption” suggesting that 4,000 workers could die between now and the kick-off of the 2022 matches, Qatar’s government published a statement stating “this is completely untrue”.
“In fact, after almost five million work-hours on World Cup construction sites, not a single worker’s life has been lost,” the statement added.
“As a result of the Post’s online article, readers around the world have now been led to believe that thousands of migrant workers in Qatar have perished, or will perish, building the facilities for World Cup 2022 – a claim that has absolutely no basis in fact,” it said.
Work is well under way on five new stadiums in Qatar, and the government said the 4,000 deaths figures effectively assumed that every migrant worker would be put on World Cup projects and “that the death of every migrant worker in Qatar is work related”.
Nicholas McGeehan, from Human Rights Watch, told the i100.co.uk that there was no reason to doubt Qatar’s claim but said it was probably because “health and safety on [World Cup] sites is of a much higher standard than in the rest of Qatar’s construction sector”.
He said more needed to be done to improve “the well-being of all workers in Qatar, not just those on 2022 projects”.
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