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Migrant workers build stadiums, hotels, highways for mens World Cup in Qatar

Art by Katie Wu

Sophomore Arohi Shah watches the mens World Cup on her laptop screen, her eyes following the soccer ball darting between a sea of blue and red uniforms. The ball travels up the field and, in what feels like milliseconds, flies into the goal. She stares in awe as the players rejoice in celebration.

In 2010, the International Federation of Association Football selected Qatar to host the 2022 Men’s World Cup. At the time, Qatar did not have the stadiums, hotels and highways needed to hold the competition, but over a span of 10 years, migrant workers already living in the country on employment visas built eight stadiums for the 2022 World Cup. 

Since 2010, more than 6,500 migrant workers from five south Asian countries have died because
of dangerous working and living conditions. According to a 2021 analysis by The Guardian, the leading causes of death among these migrant workers are overheating, workplace accidents, car crashes and suicide. 

Despite Shah’s passion for watching the World Cup, she said she thinks more measures should have been taken to prevent casualties. 

“I think it’s sad that they didn’t have regulations to make sure it was safe,” Shah said. “(FIFA) should have done better.” 

History teacher Kenneth Tinsley said these casualties are not surprising given FIFA’s long history of corruption. 

“It’s problematic that this international event that’s supposed to promote unity has been known to be mired in corruption,” Tinsley said. “The high amount of deaths is not acceptable for an event that’s supposed to promote unity.” 

Tinsley said he especially wants people to recognize FIFA’s faults and ignorance. 

“Any person who sees it still should be concerned that (this is) just one of many things that are going on that’s wrong with that event,” Tinsley said. 

Sophomore Zachary Crystal, who plays on the JV boys soccer team said he discovered the news online and was shocked to find out that many migrant workers had died from the inhumane conditions they had been working in to prepare for the World Cup.

“This made it conflicting for me to watch the World Cup because it’s something I love to do, but it feels wrong sometimes,” Crystal said. 

However, Crystal said there are also other controversies surrounding the tournament beyond migrant workers’ poor working conditions. 

“First of all, it’s in the winter instead of the summer, which intersects with the players’ club seasons,” Crystal said. “This has caused many players, especially in France, to suffer injuries that take them out of the running. Stars like Benzema and Sadio Mane won’t participate because of this.” 

Additionally, homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, so players are not allowed to wear the OneLove armbands which are a symbol of LGBTQ+ rights. 

As a result of the mundane location, inhumane conditions, and other controversies, Crystal said he has had a negative experience watching the World Cup. 

“All this controversy has made the (World Cup) a bit less enjoyable and makes FIFA, who is notorious for corruption and their decision to let Qatar host the World Cup, very questionable,” Crystal said. “Despite all this, I’m still going to watch and enjoy the World Cup and keep rooting for my teams: (the) USA and France.”


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