Everyone has turned their eyes to the FIFA World Cup matches. While the 2022 World Cup held in Qatar is like a festival with live audiences from all over the world, many of us follow these fancy shows from the outside. With stadiums of incredible size built just for the occasion, Qatar is enjoying perhaps its most spectacular tourist time ever. So, what happened to create this show in Qatar, which was determined to be the host ten years ago? What truths lie in this background of ostentation we see? This article aims to draw attention to the blood, sweat, tears, and even deaths behind the stadiums built for the World Cup.

Qatar World Cup: The sad part behind the construction - Sheet1
Lusail Stadium, Qatar_©Nigel Young
Qatar World Cup: The sad part behind the construction - Sheet2
Al Janoub Stadium, Qatar_©dedea.gov

“Cards of Qatar” Migrant Workers Behind the Fancy Stadiums | Qatar World Cup

Seeing the flamboyant stadium built for the world cup makes people realise the huge costs and money earned from the construction. While such construction creates open positions for labourers, the only ones who get massive financial gains from this are FIFA, the sponsors, and the construction companies. Tragic facts leave behind the migrants’ dreams who came to gain money to support their families left behind. Thousands of migrants came from Bangladesh, Nepal, or India to work for the world cup stadiums and gain money. Most of them were in debt and had poor living conditions; they felt this was their chance to escape. Unfortunately, the working conditions were not how they expected. They had to deal with many situations against human rights. They worked in the worst conditions, even without having a chance to quit. As a result of these situations, thousands of them died for different reasons, which was the actual cost behind the construction. Authorities did not even count or investigate the loss of lives during the process, although it needs to be addressed and fight for their and left one’s rights. 

Investigative journalism platform Blankspots and agency Forsman & Bodenfors produced new soccer cards to draw attention to the issue. These cards include dozens of unfamiliar names rather than star players. These names represent the ones who were injured or killed during the construction. World spreading voice to spread the story of thousands of deaths and to make a stop to unfair working conditions.

Qatar World Cup: The sad part behind the construction - Sheet3
Cards of Qatar_©Blankspots
Qatar World Cup: The sad part behind the construction - Sheet4
Cards of Qatar_©Blankspots
Qatar World Cup: The sad part behind the construction - Sheet5
Cards of Qatar_©Blankspots

The Atrocious Side of the Ostentation | Qatar World Cup

According to Amnesty International’s data, 1.7 million migrants worked in Qatar. The number of workers for one stadium for one day was 3,200. Each of them even paid US$ 500 – US$ 4,300 to get this job from their home country to recruitment agencies. Many fulfilled this payment by debt, so they were afraid to quit and return. 

The living conditions

Even Qatari laws and Workers’ Welfare Standards do not allow more than four beds in a room and bed-sharing or bunk beds; most workers were staying in rooms that did not satisfy these conditions. Most of them stayed in uncomfortable and unhygienic rooms with eight or more people.

The working conditions and salary

The requirement agencies that migrants pay for the jobs promised at least US$ 300 salary for a month, and workers ended up getting only US$ 190. There were times when they could not get a salary for several months, which made them unable to buy food or send their families. When they complained and asked for their deserved salary, Qatar authorities threatened to cancel the visa and send them back. People worked under hard conditions, the authorities’ attitudes and Qatar’s climate conditions. 

The unbearable heat took a lot of lives. People work under the sun for long hours without proper breaks or systems that can make them relax. Most of them got sick and passed away in their beds at night. That became so common that they called it ‘slipped away’ because each night, some of them were slipping away from life as if nothing had happened. 

According to Amnesty International’s data, one firm gained US$ 90M+, one subcontractor gained US$ 35M+, FIFA gained approximately US$ 3 Billion (as in 2014), and a worker gained an average of US$ 220 a month. 

Qatar World Cup: The sad part behind the construction - Sheet6
Construction worker at Lusail Stadium_©Ali Haider
Lusail Stadium construction_©Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera

Untold Deaths Behind the Cup | Qatar World Cup

Even though the world speaks up for Worker Rights and fights against worker abuse, many people are unaware of the issue. Authorities in Qatar and FIFA have not declared any explanation about the issue as if there can be one. These deaths did not occur suddenly; it has been happening for years, and thousands of people have lost their lives through these years. People died because of the working conditions, heat, and unhealthy living spaces. Most of the deaths have not been investigated or even called work-related. 

The International Labour Organization (ILO) declared that Qatar had improved the working and living conditions for hundreds and thousands of workers. Still, more needs to be done to enforce labour reforms. 

Two of the Qatar World Cup stadiums were designed by well-known architects. Zaha Hadid with al-Wakrah Stadium and Foster & Partners with Lusail Stadium. They also have been asked about the issue. Both did not want to be part of the news. Fosters said, “we are only involved in the initial design concept development phase, so any inquiries regarding the welfare of workers engaged in the venue’s building process are best addressed by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, who have managed the workers.” and Hadid in her interview with the Guardian said, “I cannot do anything about it because I have no power to do anything about it. I think it’s a problem anywhere in the world. But, as I said, I think there are discrepancies worldwide.” 

This issue concerns human rights, and people are raising their voices to trigger a change. 

“Migrant workers were indispensable to making the World Cup 2022 possible, but it has come at great cost for many migrant workers and their families who made not only personal sacrifices but also faced widespread wage theft, injuries, and thousands of unexplained deaths.” – Rothna Begum (Human Rights Watch)

People behind the Qatar World Cup_©John Holmes for Human Rights Watch


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  2. Walker, C. (2022). World Cup in Qatar is ‘BLOOD-STAINED and dead workers will haunt it’. [online] Mail Online. Available at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/sportsnews/article-10321749/World-Cup-Qatar-BLOOD-STAINED-dead-migrant-workers-haunt-tournament-warns-lawyer.html.
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  6. Riach, J. (2014). Zaha Hadid defends Qatar World Cup role following migrant worker deaths. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/25/zaha-hadid-qatar-world-cup-migrant-worker-deaths?utm_medium=website&utm_source=archdaily.com.
  7. Sports Integrity Initiative. (2015). ILO to consider inquiry into migrant worker abuse in Qatar. [online] Available at: https://www.sportsintegrityinitiative.com/ilo-to-consider-inquiry-into-migrant-worker-abuse-in-qatar/ [Accessed 8 Dec. 2022].
  8. Dezeen. (2022). Qatar ‘turning a blind eye’ to abuse of World Cup migrant workers says Amnesty. [online] Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2022/10/20/qatar-blind-eye-abuse-migrant-workers-world-cup-amnesty/.

A graduate student who sees architecture as a way to think critically. Using her architectural background, she aims to draw attention to the ways of existing with the earth, not against earth with her writings. She believes that critical thinking will open different doors to both people and the world.