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Press Release

22 Dec 2022

Qatar World Cup 2022 marred by migrant worker abuse

The Qatar World Cup 2022 ended on International Migrants Day after a tournament marred by abuse of migrant workers, says Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.

As the Qatar 2022 World Cup drew to a close on Sunday, data from Business & Human Rights Resource Centre showed workers continue to suffer labour rights abuse. The Resource Centre tracked 41 cases of migrant worker abuse reported during the tournament, demonstrating the ongoing challenges of systematic labour reform for the emirate. The 41 cases were published by a combination of news outlets and NGOs around the world; some pre-date the tournament itself.

Construction workers were particularly at risk, with workers who built tournament infrastructure and involved on other large developments in the emirate impacted in 28 cases. Recruitment agencies and security companies were implicated in four cases each.

All workers in the reported cases were of Asian and African nationality. Nepali workers were impacted in 21 cases, while Indian workers were impacted in six cases. Kenyan workers were impacted in three cases, and Ugandan and Ghanaian workers impacted in two cases, respectively.

Of the 41 cases tracked between 20 November and 18 December:

  • Workers reported violations of conditions of employment in 22 cases;
    • They paid recruitment fees in 10 cases
    • Wage theft was reported in 15 cases
  • Arbitrary denial of freedoms, including restrictions on association, expression and movement were reported in 10 cases;
  • Occupational health and safety violations featured in most cases (27);
    • Injuries were reported in 8 cases
    • Workers’ deaths were reported in 13 cases – at least 2 deaths occurred during the tournament itself
  • Inhumane or precarious living conditions were reported in 8 cases;
  • Workers experienced verbal or physical abuse in 2 cases;
  • Injuries were reported in 8 cases;

Most concerningly, two workers died during the tournament at venues linked to the World Cup. A Filipino national at the Saudi team’s hotel, Sealine Murwab, died falling off a ramp into concrete; neither the hotel’s brand and owner, Katara, nor the worker’s employer, Salam Petroleum, responded to the Resource Centre’s request for comment. John Njue Kibue, a Kenya security guard fell to his death while on duty at Lusail Stadium; his family have stated they have not had answers.

Six cases involved workers on Lusail, Al Bayt and Khalifa International stadiums and an additional four cases on World Cup sites that remained unnamed.

Isobel Archer, Gulf Programme Manager, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, said: “It is deeply disappointing that the rate at which we collected reports of serious labour abuse in Qatar increased as the World Cup commenced, not decreased. The total number of cases tracked throughout the tournament, shockingly, made up one fifth of the total we’ve recorded in 2022 so far.

“The misery and suffering spoken of by migrant workers and their families, many of whom have never received compensation or transparent investigations, particularly into family members’ deaths, is heartbreaking and stands in stark contrast to the estimated USD 7.5 billion made by FIFA during the tournament.

“The Supreme Committee, FIFA and other stakeholders, including sponsors and football associations, must strive for a rights-respecting legacy for this World Cup by ensuring they learn from the mistakes in Qatar, push for investigation and remedy into these and all documented cases of abuse and, going forward, ensure human rights due diligence is firmly integrated into the processes of sporting tournaments.”

// ENDS

Note to editors:

  • The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre is an international NGO that tracks the human rights impacts (positive and negative) of more than 10,000 companies across nearly 200 countries. We seek responses from companies when concerns are raised by civil society.
  • The World Cup Parallel Portal: A centralised database bringing together relevant information on World Cup-related projects (stadiums, hotels infrastructure, etc.), contractors, sponsors, national football associations and allegations of labour abuse against migrant workers in Qatar. Activists, civil society and the media can use the platform as a resource to find information relating to the human rights impacts of the World Cup.
  • How we collect this data: Our Gulf Allegations Tracker captures publicly reported allegations of labour abuse committed by businesses against migrant workers. Given this, these figures are just the tip of the iceberg as we know workers face restrictions when it comes to reporting cases of labour rights abuse. “Cases” refer to discrete instances where a company, recruitment agency or client is alleged to have abuse a worker or group of workers. Some companies appear more than once in the database.
  • For more information see our methodology here.
  • A summary of the outreach and responses from sponsors can be read in full here.
  • Report: Exploitative recruitment risks to migrant workers in Qatar’s World Cup hotels
  • Commentary: Football associations failing to engage with human rights risks ahead of the tournament

Media contact: Priyanka Mogul (London-based), Media Officer, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, +44 (0) 7880 956239, [email protected]

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 attracted high-profile international brands. We tracked sponsors' actions and engagement with human rights in the run-up to kick-off.

Football associations

National football associations played the central role at the Qatar 2022 World Cup and consequently had considerable power and influence to affect change in the country. But did they seize this opportunity?