Jun 22, 2015
The 2022 World Cup is supposed to be held in Qatar, a small, oil-rich emirate half the size of New Jersey. Foreign workers make up close to 90 per cent of Qatar’s population of 2.2 million. Construction has been booming in Qatar because of the World Cup, and the construction workers there are mostly low-paid migrant workers from the Indian subcontinent. The conditions for these workers are so bad that the Nepalese ambassador to Qatar described the emirate as an “open jail.”
Under Qatari law, companies have the right to hold foreign workers’ passports, cancel their residency permits, and forbid them to change employers or leave the country. The working conditions are very harsh, causing a very high rate of workplace injuries and deaths. The Qatari government admitted to 964 deaths among workers from India, Sri Lanka and Nepal in 2012 and ’13 – the real number is probably higher.
This is how big multinational corporations make billions of dollars off the soccer World Cup, and not just from construction. Companies like Coca-Cola and Budweiser secure exclusive selling rights through “sponsorships,” which are commonly obtained through bribes – most of which are legal.
In the end, all these big profits are stolen from workers, whose labor creates all wealth. Stolen from workers who put their lives – sometimes literally – into their work and get nothing in return.
And that’s the real scandal – in soccer as in any other business in this capitalist world.