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2022 World Cup Qatar: workplace deaths, profits for FIFA

Billion-dollar stadiums and miserable wages for workers. According to a report by the ITUC, thousands will die so that a few can enjoy the World Cup in the stadiums in Qatar.

Esquerda Diário

February 23, 2016
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Photo: Esquerda Diario

If the current rate of accidents and deaths due to poor labor conditions don’t diminish, an estimated 7 thousand will die working on projects for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar before the first kickoff, according a report by the to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), exposing major problems in the most controversial event of FIFA World Cup history.

According to the report, construction companies in Qatar will obtain a profit of 15 billion dollars from the infrastructure projects, employing more than 1.8 million workers during the 12 years of preparation for the event.

After a failed attempt to pressure Qatar’s government to change the local labor laws in order to obtain better work conditions, the current ITUC strategy is to denounce the building companies responsible for carrying out the projects, many of which are based in imperialist nations. Among them are ACS (Spain), Bechtel (USA), Besix (Belgium), Bouygues (France), Carillion (UK), CCC (Greece), Ch2M Hill (USA) CIMIC (Australia) and Hochtief (Germany).

“Every CEO conducting projects in Qatar knows very well that their company’s profits come from the low wages paid to workers and also that their hunger for profits results in fatal accidents,” said Sharan Burrow, General-Secretary for the Union.

He also claims that dozens of deaths are not accounted for: “Government refuses to publish the number of victims or their death causes.”

According to him, the initial projection was that 4 thousand workers would die by 2022. But he points that emergency services in hospitals are receiving 2.8 thousand people per day, a 20 percent increase from 2014. This jump in hospital visits may be connected to accidents at work: “The fatality rate is over a thousand deaths per year,” criticizes the unionist. He stresses, “By 2022, seven thousand of workers will die.”

Another problem is in relation to wages: “On the Khalifa Stadium project, a milestone for this World Cup, workers earn US $1.50 per hour,” he denounced.

Qatar is an important ally for the United States in the Middle East, along with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Due to its capacity to intervene in other countries in the region, the imperialist governments stay silent on the brutal repression that the monarchy represents and the poor labor conditions it maintains. Most of the labor force used for the World Cup is composed of foreign workers, who have no citizenship rights. This is yet another example of the way that the US deals with clear human rights violations: for US allies everything is allowed, even the mass murder of 7 thousand workers, especially when an American company is profiting.

The brutality of labor conditions for the World Cup join the corruption scandal surrounding the World Cup in Brazil (2014) in the realm of scandals about FIFA. n Even the Brazilian corruption pales in comparison to the corruption allegations in the 2018 Russian World Cup and in Qatar.

The worsening of work conditions in stadiums, construction sites and infrastructure projects added to the spurious business deal on the results of matches have already led to jail time for some FIFA leaders, exposing that soccer has become a huge capitalist business, which means profits based on accidents at work, exploitation and corruption.

Originally published in Esquerda Diario

Translated by Joao Pedro Campos

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