The World Cup is much like the Olympics in that it is a quadrennial sporting event and hosting the competition is a much sought after honor that will both boost the local economy and national pride. Also, not a group to waste time, host nations have been selected for future World Cup competitions that are still almost a decade away. The 2022 World Cup will be hosted by Qatar, marking the first time the event has been held in the Middle East and the second time it takes place in Asia.
However, a report from The Guardian, alleges that dozens of laborers, mostly immigrant Nepalese workers, “have died and thousands more are enduring appalling labor abuses.” Nepalese workers make up the largest group of laborers working in Qatar, and over the summer almost one worker per day died, “many young men who had sudden heart attacks.”
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The figures come from the Nepalese Embassy in Doha, Qatar, where up to 30 workers sought refuge in order to escape horrific employment conditions. Many claim that their wages were being withheld to prevent them from fleeing. They are also subject to other abuses, such as having their passports confiscated and being denied free drinking water while laboring in the harsh desert climate. Also, many of the workers have debt from Nepal, “accrued in order to pay recruitment agents for their jobs.” The workers are essentially illegal aliens and the work is tantamount to modern day slavery.
When Qatar was announced as the host nation, many speculated how the heat might affect the soccer players, but, according to Umesh Upadhyaya, general secretary of the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions points out that “they are ignoring the hardships, blood, and sweat of thousands of migrant workers who will be building the World Cup Stadiums….”