Over 6500 workers died to build stadiums and other infrastructures – Corriere.it

Behind the great party with which Doha welcomed the news that the 2022 World Cup would be played in Qatar, there are distressing numbers. In fact, every day the victims among the workers, almost all foreigners, who work on the construction of the stadiums and other infrastructures to support the competition are increasing. According to an investigation by the British newspaper «Guardian», at the moment over 6,500 immigrant workers have died in the construction sites built to host the most important football competition in the world next year. The deceased workers are mostly from India, Nepal and Bangladesh, but also from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Kenya and they worked in inhumane conditions trying to meet the deadlines of the road map which sees the construction of an unprecedented number of structures in a geographic area that was completely devoid of them. In addition to the seven new stadiums and the refurbishment of 4 others, there are also roads, airports, infrastructure for public transport, hotels and in fact the creation of entire new cities, completely redesigned on the pre-existing urban centers. A gigantic national construction site that is however costing the lives of many workers without rights and often forgotten by the country’s often not very transparent bureaucratic machine.

The figures

The latest figures reported by the British newspaper are nothing more than the tragic confirmation of forecasts that were elaborated by Ituc, an international trade union organization which, in 2013, predicted at least 4 thousand white deaths until 2022. A figure that paradoxically has been confirmed. , but by default, given that the dead so far are at least 6500. The infernal conditions of many workers have remained so over the last few years, without anyone being able (or willing) to intervene, either in the context of FIFA or in international field, in a small state where the foreign workforce amounts to almost 2 million people and is essential to carry on the life of the country. Since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar, in the Arab state, at least 6,500 workers have died to build stadiums and infrastructures, given that the numbers reported by the Guardian may even be lower than the real extent of the tragedy. There is talk of 2,711 Indian workers dead, in addition to 1,641 Nepalese, 1,018 from Bangladesh, 824 Pakistanis and 557 from Sri Lanka. As many as 6,751 victims in all and this count still does not include the white deaths of the last months of 2020. However, there would be doubts about the connection between the World Cup and the total number of Pakistani workers who died from 2010 to 2020, so much so that the “Guardian” is limits to speak generically of about 6500 victims. However, these figures are not recognized by the organizing committee, which instead believes that only 37 deaths are attributable to the construction of the World Cup structures.

Poor transparency

It is evident that alongside the tragedy of so many families who have lost in this way the figure that represented their main source of income, there is also the lack of transparency of information disseminated by local authorities. All deaths from heart attack, excess physical stress, asphyxiation and pathologies deriving from exhausting work on construction sites, but not occurring in the workplace, in fact fall within the category of “natural deaths” for the authorities, a decision that removes any possibility of verifying in detail the causes of deaths, as autopsies are generally not carried out and no type of subsequent investigation is carried out. Without considering the deaths from suicide or those resulting from the precarious hygienic conditions of the workers’ housing, there is also the problem of the extreme climatic conditions of work: in the summer of 2019, to give an example, the scorching heat was the cause of numerous deaths among workers, as was also recorded by theInternational Labor Organization at the United Nations. How does Qatar defend itself against the accusations? This is the repeated response to the complaints presented by Amnesty International and by representatives of Human Rights Watch in the country: “We are working to improve our health and social security system for the benefit of workers, including foreigners, but if you look at the numbers, the white deaths do not they are superior to those of any other large construction site set up in the world in recent years ». An answer without statistical evidence, which, unfortunately, had also been adopted by FIFA in the past.


Already after the vote of 2 December 2010, when the 2022 World Cup was assigned to Qatar, there were moreover great protests due to the outcome of the ballot which saw the Arab country exceed the 8 of the United States with 14 preferences. Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, before both falling out of favor overwhelmed by legal scandals, were still at the top of world and European football. In those days, it was later told, there was also a lunch at the Elysée, organized a few days earlier and which saw as guests the then French President Nicolas Sarkozy with the presidents of Fifa and Uefa and the crown prince of Qatar, who would be then became emir three years later. From that moment the road was paved for a rich country that could economically offer so much to its European partners. In a constant affirmation of soft power, the assignment of the 2022 World Cup was followed by the acquisition of PSG and the entry of the BeIn Sports TV network (Al Jazeera group) in the competition to achieve the TV rights of French football hitherto monopolized. from Canal Plus. Investments worth hundreds and hundreds of millions of euros, which, according to some, would have led France first and then the West to turn a blind eye to an international tragedy such as that of the living conditions of foreign workers on construction sites of Qatar.

February 23, 2021 (change February 23, 2021 | 16:49)


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