Ever since Qatar were awarded the 2022 World Cup in a process that definitely involved absolutely no foul play, the Arab state's quest to hold the planet's biggest football tournament has been wrought with controversy.
Among the chief complaints are the utter lack of football heritage in the Sharia Law-governed nation, and the 120-degree heat that will greet fans and players at stadiums that have not yet been built, using air cooling technologies that have not yet been invented.
Yet the 2022 World Cup will go ahead in Qatar — perhaps in the winter — and the infrastructure is already under development. German newspaper Bild, however, has revealed some alarming facts about the working conditions of the migrant workers who building the World Cup dream in the Gulf state:
The foreign workers (mostly from Nepal and the Philippines) get a pittance of less than one euro per hour (78 cents), live in tiny rooms, some at 50 degrees [120 degrees Fahrenheit] without a working air conditioner. Often they cannot leave Qatar because their employers have taken their passports from them.
At today's rate, the hourly wage of €0.78 works out at just under $1 per hour. In January, The Guardian published details of alleged human rights exploitation occurring in Qatar, expanding on Bild's assertion that workers are forced to continue working in squalid conditions:
Many of the 1.2 million migrant workers, who form 88% of the country's population, suffer the kafala sponsorship system, which ties them to a single employer. That means they cannot change jobs without the consent of that employer, other than in exceptional cases, and to leave Qatar they need the sponsoring employer to grant an exit visa, which can be refused. Employers "routinely" confiscate workers' passports, [Human Rights Watch] says.
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, shared her concerns over the "slave" conditions with Bild, offering a damning statistic:
"Qatar is a slave state. To build the infrastructure, more workers are likely to die than the 736 footballers who are playing at the World Cup."
Awarding a World Cup to a country that is apparently using modern-day slavery certainly adds a chilling level of thoughtlessness to FIFA President Sepp Blatter's comments about Cristiano Ronaldo being a "slave" during multi-million dollar contract negotiations.
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