Status: 11/20/2022 9:07 am
Qatar’s Al Bayt Stadium will join many famous stadiums as the site of the World Cup opening match – but it too has seen exploitation and deaths in the preparations.
Hosts Qatar will open the tournament with a game against Ecuador on Sunday (11/20/2022, 5 p.m.) at the Al Bayt Stadium in the city of Al Khour, 60 kilometers from the capital Doha. The stadium, which can seat 60,000 people, will then line up with famous venues in football history: Maracana, Wembley, San Siro and many more.
“We are very proud and excited,” said Qatar captain Hassan Alhaydos at the pre-match press conference. “There is no greater honor.” The Al Bayt Stadium was built from scratch, like most of the eight World Cup stadiums. The name refers to the traditional tents of the nomads of Qatar, the outer facade is reminiscent of such tents.
Guest workers report: “Often had to work 16 hours”
The tent-like stadium was mainly built by guest workers. The Al-Bayt stadium is also part of the exploitative working conditions that largely prevailed in the creation of the general infrastructure for the World Cup – unworthy accommodation, gag contracts, illegal agency fees.
Nagindar Yadev worked at Al Bayt Stadium – and reports bad conditions.
Guest worker Nagindar Yadav from Nepal reports in the WDR podcast “The World Cup Slaves” from his experiences. “We felt like slaves, actually we were worse off than slaves. At least a slave gets something to eat,” said Yadav. He worked on the Al Bayt Stadium construction site for about a year between 2018 and 2019. Back in Nepal, he said on WDR: “We had to work at least 10 hours a day, often 16 hours.”
Yadav says that he was entitled to a monthly salary of 280 euros. The money was paid irregularly or not at all. He reports violence by superiors: “When we were new in the company, seven workers were severely beaten in the company’s office.”
“Two workers died before my eyes”
And he tells of death. “We were afraid for our safety. Especially at high altitude,” said Yadav. “Two workers died before my eyes. One fell down the elevator shaft and the other from the crane. They died right in front of us. We were in shock and refused to continue working. But the supervisors forced us.”
Workers during the construction of Al Bayt Stadium (picture taken on January 5, 2017)
Yadav signed an affidavit on the death of the two workers in May 2019, as did another colleague of his. At that time, FIFA publicly admitted for the first time that violations of international labor standards had also occurred on the World Cup construction sites. Previously, FIFA had always denied this. The World Cup organizing committee denied all allegations at the time.
Human rights organization: “Classic situation of forced labor”
On the day of the opening ceremony, the stadium is now complete. The state-of-the-art building hosts the prelude to the most important football tournament. The human rights organization Equidem listed in a report most recently, in retrospect, numerous incidents of discrimination and exploitation on World Cup stadium construction sites.
The organization makes several allegations specifically for the Al Bayt Stadium:
- Discrimination based on nationality
- Wage theft through withheld wages or unpaid overtime
- Illegal Referral Fees
- collection of passports
- Insufficient Reporting of Violations and Retaliation for Reporting Violations
- Lack of opportunity to change employer
- Health and Safety Risks
- physical violence
“These workers were threatened,” said Mustafa Qadri, founder and CEO of Equidem, in general to the construction sites. “If they even complain about their situation, if they claim their salary, then we will report you to the authorities that you are runaways or stole something from us. This is a classic forced labor situation.”
View of the finished Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khour (Qatar)
FIFA President Infantino defends Qatar against allegations
The day before the opening ceremony, FIFA President Gianni Infantino defended hosts Qatar against criticism of the situation. “For what we Europeans have done over the past 3,000 years, we should apologize for the next 3,000 years before we start teaching people moral lessons,” he said, accusing Western media of “hypocrisy” and “double standards.” before.
As on several occasions before, Infantino indicated improvements for the workers. However, human rights organizations repeatedly criticize the fact that many reforms have been introduced in Qatar on paper, but in practice they are often not implemented at all or only insufficiently.