Tribune. From the “shame balls” of 1998, made in Pakistan by underpaid and abused children, to the Russia of 2018, champion of repression, the recent history of the FIFA World Cup is marked by scandals. A little bit of sport, a lot of money and cynicism, and massive human rights violations: that could be the summary of this ordeal, which despite everything continues to inspire young and old alike. But this time, with Qatar, the International Football Federation (FIFA) has gone much too far in this logic of compromise. The petromonarchy has seen thousands of workers die on its sites for the World Cup, without investigating these “work accidents”, nor of course recognizing its responsibility. Qatar still continues today to maintain employees, men or women, in conditions of quasi-servitude.
As in other countries in the region, these people have indeed left their country by the millions (mainly from South-East Asia or Africa) to flee poverty and find work in the Gulf, especially in Qatar. Before the spotlight of the international community was focused, because of the World Cup, on this small, rich and influential state, these men and women – hired on construction sites or in other sectors (services, cleaning, etc. .) – had their administrative documents systematically confiscated and had to work in trying conditions, for very low salaries – when they received them!
It is a form of forced labor, behind the scenes for one of the most publicized sporting events in the world. Faced with pressure from the international community, Qatar agreed to change its legislation. The law on the kafala – system of sponsorship prior to hiring – has finally been amended, but at the margin, to better protect, at least in theory, the migrants who work under this regime. An evolution in fact cosmetic but skilfully staged through a major international press and opinion campaign. Because, in fact, one year before the World Cup, and contrary to the assertions of the Qatari authorities, little or nothing has changed under the blazing sun of Doha.
“Under the feet of the players who will tread the lawns of the stadiums, thousands of workers have suffered or died”
According to our information, the same working conditions are observed on construction sites, including those not directly concerned by the World Cup: insufficient breaks, oppressive heat, prohibition to leave one’s employer without his agreement, or even to return to his workplace. country, inability to protest or denounce the situation. Thus, the Kenyan blogger Malcolm Bidali, security agent in Qatar, who had mentioned these working conditions on the networks, spent nearly a month in prison, before being finally released and allowed to leave the country.
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“The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is a little bit of sport, a lot of money, and massive human rights violations”