Workers in Qatar pictured building one of seven new stadiums needed for the 2022 World Cup. Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach

For many soccer fans, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will shine a little less brightly, due to the abuse of the employed workers.

In order to host the teams and fans, Qatar needed to construct a new airport, seven new stadiums and new hotels. This rich but small country is short on workers and cheap labor. Accordingly, to build these structures, Qatar permitted an influx of migrant laborers. These workers, seeking better wages and living conditions, were instead met with the exact opposite.

According to Amnesty International, many workers’ passports were taken upon arrival. One worker reported, “I remember my first day in Qatar. Almost the very first thing [an agent] working for my company did was take my passport. I haven’t seen it since.” Without passports, the workers cannot leave and are forced to perform dangerous work. Per The Guardian, dangerous working conditions have led to at least 37 deaths at World Cup stadiums and projects.

There are reports that the migrant workers’ exploitation continues in their living conditions. One migrant worker told Amnesty International, “There are eight of us in a room— it is too many.” Another reported, “The work is hard, our camp is filthy and small.”

On top of the lack of freedom, exploitation and poor conditions, workers are not getting paid. One migrant told Amnesty that as a result of withheld wages, “My family is now homeless and two of my younger children have been taken out of school… Every day I am in tension, I cannot sleep at night. This is a torture for me.”

While some migrants have begun to speak up and protest these abuses, their efforts were met with a strong response by the Qatari government. The Washington Post reported that sixty workers were detained for participating in a protest challenging conditions and unpaid wages. While Qatar’s World Cup will be full of sport, excitement and pride, these exploitations against the vulnerable and silenced workers are a dark side of the beautiful game.

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