Sun | Jan 29, 2023

#FootballFever | Qatar says worker deaths for World Cup ‘between 400 and 500’

Published:Tuesday | November 29, 2022 | 8:11 AM
Workers walk to the Lusail Stadium, one of the 2022 World Cup stadiums, in Lusail, Qatar, Friday, December 20, 2019. The eight stadiums for the World Cup, all within a 30-mile radius of Doha, are now largely complete. Migrant laborers who built Qatar's World Cup stadiums often worked long hours under harsh conditions and were subjected to discrimination, wage theft, and other abuses as their employers evaded accountability, a rights group said in a report released Thursday. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — A top Qatari official involved in the country's World Cup organisation has put the number of worker deaths for the tournament “between 400 and 500” for the first time, a drastically higher number than any other previously offered by Doha.

The comment by Hassan al-Thawadi, the secretary-general of Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, appeared to come off the cuff during an interview with British journalist Piers Morgan.

It also threatened to reinvigorate criticism by human rights groups over the toll of hosting the Middle East's first World Cup for the migrant labour that built over $200 billion worth of stadiums, metro lines and new infrastructure needed for the tournament.

In the interview, portions of which Morgan posted online, the British journalist asks al-Thawadi: “What is the honest, realistic total do you think of migrant workers who died from – as a result of work they're doing for the World Cup in totality?”

“The estimate is around 400, between 400 and 500,” al-Thawadi responds. “I don't have the exact number. That's something that's been discussed.”

But that figure hasn't been discussed publicly by Qatari officials previously. Reports from the Supreme Committee dating from 2014 through the end of 2021 only include the number of deaths of workers involved in building and refurbishing the stadiums now hosting the World Cup.

Those released figures put the total number of deaths at 40. They include 37 from what the Qataris describe as nonwork incidents such as heart attacks and three from workplace incidents. One report also separately lists a worker died from the coronavirus amid the pandemic.

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