Sports | March 17, 2020 6:00 am

Report: 34 Qatar World Cup Stadium Worker Deaths In 6 Years

This total includes nine from last year

Soccer sculpture in Qatar
Dozens of workers have died building facilities for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Alex Sergeev/Creative Commons

What happens when you have an abundance of new construction in a country known for a dangerous environment for manual laborers? In the case of the facilities being built for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, you have the makings of a controversy that’s been brewing for a long while.

A new article by Pete Pattisson at The Guardian spotlights a report recently issued by Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy. Titled “Fifth Annual Workers’ Welfare Progress Report,” it offers a sobering look at the human cost of building the stadiums and other buildings involved with such a prominent competition.

The number of deaths cited by the report currently stands at 34. Pattisson offers more detail in his article:

31 of the deaths, including the nine who died last year, are classified as “non-work related”, a term the supreme committee uses to describe deaths that largely occur off the worksite, most of which are attributed to sudden and unexplained cardiac or respiratory failure.

That phrasing also has a larger impact on the governmental response to these deaths. “Qatari law and the supreme committee’s worker welfare standards do not require companies to pay compensation for non-work related deaths,” writes Pattisson.

The Qatar World Cup isn’t the only such event to have its reputation affected by worker deaths — it was also a source of controversy before the Brazil-hosted World Cup in 2014. This should be less of an issue for the 2026 World Cup, as being hosted in the United States, Canada and Mexico — all nations with existing stadiums and infrastructure for an event on this scale — won’t require nearly as much labor.

Regardless, the report mentioned by The Guardian stands as an unnerving reminder of the human cost of this particular sporting event — something which no amount of dramatic games or memorable goals can counterbalance.

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