A Qatar government official has admitted that “between 400 and 500” workers died during the construction of the country’s new World Cup stadiums and infrastructure.
In order to host the FIFA World Cup, Qatar spent $300 billion on the construction of tournament-related infrastructure, including stadiums, hotels, highways, railways, and an expanded international airport.
In Qatar, migrant workers make up 90% of the nation’s workforce.
In an interview with British journalist Piers Morgan that aired on TalkTV, Hassan Al-Thawadi, secretary general of the Qatar World Cup Supreme Committee, was asked how many workers died during construction for the soccer tournament as a result of the nation’s poor safety standards.
“The estimate is around 400, between 400 and 500,” Al-Thawadi replied.
“I don’t have the exact number, that’s something that’s been discussed.
“One death is too many, it’s as simple as that.”
World Cup boss Hassan Al-Thawadi tells Piers Morgan 400-500 migrant workers have died as a result of work done on projects connected to the tournament.
— Piers Morgan Uncensored (@PiersUncensored) November 28, 2022
On Tuesday, an Amnesty International campaigner led calls for “truth, justice, and compensation” after Al-Thawadi’s admission.
Responding to Al-Thawadi’s remarks, Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice, said that “the continued debate around the number of workers who have died in the preparation of the World Cup exposes the stark reality that so many bereaved families are still waiting for truth and justice.”
“Over the last decade, thousands of workers have returned home in coffins, with no explanation given to their loved ones,” he noted.
Other estimates have put the death toll as high as 15,000.
An analysis by The Guardian found that more than 6,500 workers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar since the repressive Gulf monarchy was awarded soccer’s premier international tournament in late 2010.
The Guardian’s estimate, however, has been criticized for counting all foreign worker deaths in the country over the past decade.
“Qatar’s extreme heat and grueling working conditions are likely to have contributed to hundreds of these deaths, but without full investigations, the true scale of lives lost can never be known,” Cockburn continued.
“Meanwhile, families are suffering the added anguish of severe financial insecurity that comes from losing the main wage earner.
“There is nothing natural about this scale of loss and there can be no excuse for denying families truth, justice, and compensation any longer,” he added.
“Until all abuses suffered by migrant workers in Qatar are remedied, the legacy of this World Cup will be severely tarnished by their mistreatment.”