FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: A Success, But At What Cost?

Christy Joshy

Social Media Editor

    After a memorable FIFA World Cup, supporters of the fan-favorite Messi and his Argentine team can return home victorious—and alive. However, the same cannot be said of the thousands of migrant workers who made the spectacular 2022 event a reality.

  FIFA has been subject to claims of numerous human rights violations throughout the years. Though the organization claims to safeguard its commitment to “respecting all internationally recognized human rights,” it continues to supervise through its words rather than actions.

  The 2022 Qatar World Cup, in particular, has been the recent recipient of controversy regarding the deaths of migrant workers hailing from countries like India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Kenya, and more. According to the Guardian, the deaths of more than 6,500 South Asian migrant workers have been reported “in Qatar since it won the right to host the World Cup 10 years ago.” The Qatari government has kept many of these fatalities hush-hush to protect their operations from further scrutiny from nations opposing their selection. 

   However, this secrecy has left the families of these migrant workers in the dust, with no word of their sons, husbands, and fathers.

 Madhu Bollapally, a worker from Telegana, India, came to Qatar in 2013 in hopes of earning money to send to his struggling family back home—his wife, Latha, and 13-year-old son, Rajesh. Seven years later, in 2019, his roommate found Bollapally on the floor of their shared dorm, unresponsive. His death was recorded as “heart failure due to natural causes.” “Natural causes” was the prevailing reported cause of death among South Asian workers, according to the Guardian, leaving the underprivileged families of the deceased left hurt without answers or the breadwinner they relied on to survive.

  Tragedies like Bollapally were not the exception but the norm. Gruesome deaths by electrocution, falling from high elevations, and even suicide were reported. Strenuous working conditions and expectations, along with Qatar’s excruciating summer heat, made surviving an everyday challenge for these workers.

  When questioned by reporters about a death of a Filipino worker who slipped off a ramp onto the concrete floor, the chief executive of the Qatar World Cup, Nasser al-Khater, in turn, asked about the relevancy of the matter. 

He asserted that “death is a natural part of life–whether it’s at work, whether it’s in your sleep,” while effectively removing himself and the organization he leads from the query. What al-Khater and other organizers fail to recognize is that many of these deaths were avoidable.

   The issue itself could have been prevented or, at least, lessened through strict enforcement of regulations in place with human rights codes.

  Though it is Qatar’s controversial policies relating to the 2022 FIFA World Cup that have come into question as of late, its predecessors are not exempt from similar allegations. 

Countries that hosted past World Cups, like Russia, Brazil, South Africa, etc., have all received backlash for using tactics like forced labor and torture to build the infrastructure needed for such a colossal event. Since then, not enough has been done to counteract the situation. A report corroborated by Forbes reported that Qatar’s World Cup   had been the most expensive World Cup to date, with the country spending over $220 billion. Though such a worldwide event requires extensive investments and expenditures, it gives way to the uncomfortable question of what limits succeeding countries will go in ensuring their global launch is greater than the last.

Photo Courtesy of GettyImages