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25 Oct 2021

Håvard Melnæs, Josimar Football

The trial of Abdullah Ibhais

On Sunday afternoon 4 August 2019 there was a real sense of urgency at the Al Bidda Tower offices of the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy in West Bay, Doha. Approximately 5000 migrant workers who hadn’t received their salaries for months were striking in the Al Shahaniya district, 40 kilometres north east of the capital, where several labour camps with dire conditions are located. Inside the Supreme Committee (SC), who are in charge of the World Cup that will take place in November and December in Qatar next year, Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi and Mahmoud Qutub, executive director of the SC’s Workers Welfare Program, were busy discussing with senior media people how to handle their response on the striking migrant workers on a WhatsApp group named Crisis Comms. 

The communication and the events that followed it – uncovered for the first time here – will confirm the suspicions of many that the primary purpose of Qatar’s World Cup organisers has been to protect the country’s reputation, no matter the cost to the migrant workers building the tournament or anyone who stands up for their rights.