Qatar: Unexplained death of World Cup stadium worker one of hundreds dismissed as "natural" by authorities; FIFA responded

On 23 June Rupchandra Rumba, a Nepali labourer working on a football stadium for the World Cup 2022, died during his sleep. His death was attributed to "acute cardio respiratory failure due to natural cause[s]”; one of many such deaths recorded as "natural" by the Qatari authorities.

While fatalities of migrants in destination countries such as Qatar and Malaysia are attributed to cardiovascular disease and recorded as "natural deaths", a study published in the journal Cardiology draws a strong correlation between higher temperatures and mortality rates.

Postmortems are forbidden by Qatari law except in specific circumstances, and when deaths of workers are not recognised as work-related, families of workers are not entitled to compensation. Rubchandra Rumba's death therefore remains uninvestigated.

In a statement, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy confirmed they have begun an investigation into Mr Rumba's death. They identified a 'lapse of the pre-approval process' whereby Maskey Contracting was not pre-approved to work on the construction site and five of its employees, including Mr Rumba, did not receive required medical screening. The SC has also stated that all compensation due to Mr Rumba has been paid.

In December 2019, The Guardian reported that Nirmila Pakrin, Mr Rumba's widow, had still not received due compensation for his death. We approached FIFA for comment on this latest reporting; FIFA did not respond.

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All components of this story

Company response
17 December 2019

FIFA response to Guardian articles of Dec 2019

Download the full document here

Article
10 December 2019

Qatar stadium deaths: the dark side of the glittering venue hosting Liverpool

Author: Pete Pattisson, The Guardian (UK)

Nearly six months after he died... Rumba’s wife, Nirmala Pakrin, has still not received any compensation from Qatar...

Pakrin says the director of the company that employed Rumba has been pressuring her to accept a pay-off of 7,000 Qatari rials (£1,460)...

“I’m concerned about my safety. He is using threatening language,” [Pakrin] says.

Her brother, Pradip Pakrin, has dismissed the offer, saying: “We have to fight for what is right. If we accept this, other families will suffer"...

In the past year the Guardian has spoken to the families of five deceased stadium workers... Two say they have not received any compensation from Qatar... three only received compensation after the Guardian revealed their stories last year.

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Item
16 October 2019

Response to the Guardian newspaper

Author: Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy

The SC’s main contractors are required to put in place a comprehensive heat stress management plan that is reviewed and approved by the SC...

The SC investigates all non-work-related deaths and work-related fatalities in line with our Incident Investigation Procedure to identify contributory factors and establish how they could have been prevented...

The SC can confirm that Rup Chandra Rumba, a Nepalese national, died on 23 June 2019 in his accommodation. The cause of death was acute cardio-respiratory failure, due to natural causes.

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Article
2 October 2019

Dead at 24: did heat kills Doha World Cup worker Rupchandra Rumba?

Author: Pete Pattisson & Roshan Sedhai (Guardian UK)

[Nepali labourer Rupchandra Rumba] had been working... at the Education City football stadium, a new 40,000-seat arena set to host a World Cup quarter-final...

his sudden and unexplained death was attributed to “acute cardio respiratory failure due to natural cause[s]”...

which the World Cup organisers call, “non-work related deaths”.

Deaths from natural causes are never investigated... [although workers] can be exposed to hours of extreme heat stress every day for months at a time over the summer. Cardiologists now say that heat stress is the direct cause of the high numbers of deaths attributed to cardiovascular problems in Qatar.

Read the full post here