The inhumane working conditions at World Cup construction sites in Qatar have been making headlines for years. Despite this, little about the situation has changed. According to estimates, around 6,500 South Asian migrant workers have died since construction began. In this short film we take a look at the situation of the many “Guest workers” in Qatar.
FIFA’s decision to hold the men’s World Cup in 2022 in the Gulf State of Qatar has been particularly controversial. Beyond the many basic human rights violations and restrictions on freedom of the press, the inhumane working conditions at World Cup construction sites in wealthy Qatar have been making headlines for years. According to estimates, around 6,500 migrant workers from South Asia have died since construction on stadiums and other World Cup infrastructure began. Many more have been injured due to inadequate safety measures.
In this short film, we take a look at the inhumane working conditions endured by the many migrant workers in Qatar. We also ask ourselves what we, as football fans, can do to draw attention to these abuses and how we can continue to exert pressure on Qatar.
Millions of soccer fans around the world regularly follow the matches of their favorite teams in various leagues, cup matches or international competitions. The men's World Cup team is also a huge spectacle with guaranteed media attention, exciting matches and places of gathering between celebrating soccer fans of different nations.
The Qatari government has initiated reforms. But the absence of unions, a civil society, and opportunities for legal counsel mean that the laws rarely take effect. Since 2014, the Qatari government has claimed it has abolished the kafala system. At first, this was a mere name change - the kafala system was called the contract system. Then the conditions for changing jobs were partially softened. Then the previous procedure for obtaining an exit permit was gradually abolished. Finally, the so-called No Objection Certificate(NOC), the certificate of the guarantor/employer without which workers* were not allowed to change jobs, was abolished altogether.
One year before the start of the World Cup in Qatar, we asked experts from human rights organizations, trade unions, politics, fan initiatives and migrant workers from South Asia for their perspectives on the controversial tournament. Among other things, we shed light on the geopolitical background of the region, the concept of "sportswashing" and the history of migrant labor in Qatar. We discuss current labor reforms and women's rights in Qatar. We draft ideas on what global justice in the sports industry could look like and what valuable and necessary contributions clubs and associations with critical engagement and democratic structures can make.
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