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18 Nov 2022

State of play: Migrant workers' rights in Qatar at World Cup kick off


The FIFA World Cup 2022 kicks off on 20 November in Doha. For over a decade since the World Cup was awarded, Gulf researchers and civil society have sought to shed light on the labour conditions for migrant workers in one of the most opaque contexts for company operations.

Ahead of the tournament, we break down what labour abuse looks like for the millions of migrant workers employed by the private sector in Qatar. Our data shows migrant workers across Qatar continue to suffer exploitation at the hands of employers and recruiters, despite reforms that have sought to improve their employment conditions and claimed to abolish the exploitative kafala system. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers are working to make the World Cup happen, but their experiences are too often unheard.

Infographic: Migrant workers' rights in Qatar

Our breakdown of alleged abuse in the run-up to Qatar's World Cup

To host the World Cup, Qatar has renovated one stadium and built seven more, with the furthest match venue just 46km away from Doha. The stadiums are at the visual heart of this tournament - each is a masterpiece of architectural design and engineering, with sought-after tenders going to local and multinational companies alike, keen to cash in on the construction boom.

Migrant workers, especially in construction and security companies, have reported poor working conditions, health and safety violations and violations of conditions of their employment while building and guarding the stadiums and surrounding areas. Unlike other workers across Qatar, workers on World Cup sites should have experienced working conditions of a better standard owing to the Worker Welfare Standards established by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy. With a month to kickoff, Amnesty International’s latest Reality Check report found "some major outstanding issues remain around the extent of enforcement".

We have tracked a total of 60 cases of alleged migrant worker abuse relating specifically to World Cup project sites and stadiums, dating back to July 2014 and with the most recent emerging in November 2022. These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg, however, noting the restrictions in reporting that discourage workers from speaking up about their experiences.

Infographic: Qatar's World Cup stadiums

Spotlight on allegations of labour abuse at World Cup stadiums

More resources on the Qatar World Cup

Qatar World Cup Parallel Portal

Mapping the businesses involved in the World Cup – from the construction companies that built the infrastructure to the hotels and leisure facilities that will host fans, and sponsors and partners providing services to the tournament – and tracking allegations of human rights abuse.

FIFA & Qatar World Cup 2022 sponsors

Association with the world’s greatest sporting event is lucrative and has attracted high-profile international brands. We have been tracking sponsors' actions and engagement with human rights in the run-up to kick-off.

Football associations

National football associations will play the central role at the Qatar 2022 World Cup and consequently have considerable power and influence to affect change in the country.