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Qatar World Cup horror, as 4,000 migrants could be ‘worked to death’

Sep 27, 2013, 1:50 PM EDT

Labourers work at the construction site of Qatar Foundation headquarters in Doha

The reasons against a World Cup in Qatar just keep stacking up, and this latest news is perhaps the most controversial of them all.

After reports surfaced earlier this week about the poor working conditions for construction workers in Qatar, NBC News understands that as many as 4,000 migrant workers could die as the tiny Arab nation kicks on with its construction efforts ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Many outlets have cited Qatar’s “appalling labor abuses” and want more to be done about the huge influx of workers — between 500,000 and 1 million —  who will be brought in from Nepal, India and other South Asian and African countries to complete infrastructure for the tournament, the ITUC said. This vast number of overseas workers represents a workforce increase of 50 percent.

“More than 4,000 workers risk losing their life over the next seven years as construction for World Cup facilities gets under way if no action is taken to give migrant workers’ rights,” ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said in a statement.

“The annual death toll among those working on building sites could rise to 600 a year -– almost a dozen a week –- unless the Doha government makes urgent reforms.”

(MORE: Qatar hits back, “It’s the right place to host 2022 World Cup”)

Following this recent allegations and the reports being made public, soccer’s world governing body, FIFA, is looking into the situation in Qatar. While many will argue that migrant workers carrying out their job in harmful conditions is something that comes with hosting a World Cup, Olympic Games or other events, it shouldn’t be that way. Not at all.

The international soccer players’ union, FIFPro, said it was “deeply alarmed” by the reports, and called on the Qatari authorities to allow inspections.

Already there is huge resistance to a World Cup in Qatar, as European league are unwilling to switch their schedule for a Winter World Cup, while FIFA’s own doctors have raised concerns about the searing temperatures that reach above and beyond 120 degrees during the summer. Those figured have prompted FIFA President Sepp Blatter to push for a winter tournament but many believe this makes the original decision in 2010 to award Qatar the prestigious tournament, was a huge mistake.

(MORE: ‘Mistake’ FIFA President Sepp Blatter admits Qatar error)

With Qatari officials staying defiant over a summer World Cup in dangerous conditions, FIFA unsure what action to take and now the lives of thousands of migrant workers being put at risk to get the tournament up and running, where will this all end?

The tragic death of Christian “Chuco” Benitez occurred in the heat of the Qatari summer back in August, and then there are the lengthy allegations that Qatari officials bribed many FIFA officials and other influential member of the soccer world, to ensure they won the rights to host the 2022 tournament.

(MORE: Tragedy strikes as Christian Benitez, 27, dies in Qatar)

Is it time to take the tournament away from Qatar? Or should it simple be switched to the winter and all of those other concerns be forgotten?

FIFA and the soccer nations of the world have some serious thinking and talking to do between now and 2022, because this situation will only get worse before it gets better.

  1. mlsconvert88888 - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    Do considerations such as having to increase your labor force by 50% to be able to build the infrastructure required for a World Cup get reviewed in the bid process?
    It seems like asking, “Will it require a humanitarian crisis to in order to make this event logistically possible?” is a pretty prudent thing to do. You would think anyway.

  2. tridecagon - Sep 27, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    It doesn’t really matter what was reviewed in the bid process, if people who need money are being paid to vote a certain way. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the only way Qatar won the vote in the first place was because of corruption. None of this was unforeseeable.

  3. talgrath - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:08 PM

    FIFA just needs to abort this before it is too late, redo the bid process, you have 9 years for someone to get ready for this, I’m sure some other country that isn’t letting workers die in the streets will be happy to do it.

  4. braxtonrob - Sep 28, 2013 at 2:28 AM

    This (selection) just keeps getting worse and worse.

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