Qatar 2022: Corruption Inquiries and Human Rights Abuses
In the history of Football, no other decision would have stirred as much controversy as FIFA’s decision to give the 2022 world cup to minuscule Middle Eastern state of Qatar. On December 2, 2010, FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced about Qatar’s selection to host the World Cup. It was said that Qatar emerged victorious after fiercely contesting with Japan, South Korea, US and Australia. Immediately after this decision, allegations started to unfurl, the important one being that Qatar had given lots of bribes in order to secure the panel votes needed to win the hosting rights.
FIFA’s Ethics Committee launched an internal investigation to inquire about the accusations. A former US attorney Michael Garcia led the investigations. The close examination by Garcia on the Qatar bid took a turn in June this year (2014) as a leaked document (published in UK’s Sunday Times) suggested that Qatari official Mohammad bin Hamman paid nearly $5 million to secure the bid. The leaked document made sponsors like Sony, Adidas, Coca-Cola and Hyundai to pressurize FIFA.
Garcia’s full report was now scheduled to release on September, which might bring all the evidence related to bidding process. And, if the corruption allegations are proved to be true, Qatar could be stripped of the rights to the tournament. While there are lot of speculations about Garcia report and whether there will be a new bidding process, a new controversy has raised about Qatar world cup. An Amnesty report, last year, raised fears about the exploitation of the migrant workers, building the world cup stadiums. The report, which had interviewed many migrant workers, revealed that workers are living in squalid, overcrowded accommodation, exposed to sewage and without running water.
The workers mostly from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal were all said to be treated like cattle. 12 workers are accommodated inside a small single room. They work 12 to 15 hours a day, where the temperatures regularly reach 45C. In 2012-13, around 964 migrant workers have died in the construction sites. From 2014, Jan – May nearly 87 Nepali workers have died. On an average, the Qatar World Cup construction sites kill at least one person daily. FIFA President Sepp Blatter promised to talk to ‘emir’ and to that he would raise the issue of workers. Later, he said immense progress had been made on the migrant workers issue.
Nonetheless, a new ‘Guardian’ article reveals that the workers’ pay rate has been breached even according to tournament organizers’ own worker welfare rules. The Gulf Kingdom, which spends nearly 134 billion Euros on World Cup infrastructure, has paid 4.90 Euros a day for 30 days a month work (no holidays) in the ferocious desert heat. It is lowest even for Qatar, as migrant laborers in Qatar’s construction industries receive more salary. The migrant workers’ passport has also been held by the organizers, which is another breach of workers welfare. The irony here is that the Indian building laborers receive 3.2 Euro a day in India. Since the wages are slightly higher the workers opted to migrate to Qatar, but now the salaries in India are said to be rising because of a shortage of labor.
The increasing controversies and human rights abuses in Qatar World Cup may only reflect the Omnipresent, ever increasing inequalities in global community. For fans, Football is their favorite pastime; the trending topic to chatter about in social media. For governments and corporate companies, Football is all about money. Well, migrant workers get to be the real ‘Football’, whose lived are played with in an incessant manner.