Exploitation of World Cup Workers


Image by Fauzan Saari via Unsplash

By Mia Giglio, Staff Writer

While the World Cup was certainly enjoyable for millions of viewers, there was another side to this widely beloved event. The 2022 World Cup held in Qatar required over 100 new hotels and 8 different stadiums, each stadium having a capacity ranging from 40,000 people to 80,000 people. This is no easy feat, even with the several years of preparation Qatar had, as well as the billions of dollars in their budget. They would need workers – and a lot of them. This tournament gave struggling families hope, they were seeing job opportunities that they had only dreamed about. They were eager to become a part of the construction team; unfortunately, their good luck seemed to come to an abrupt end once they began working. The World Cup 2022 construction workers in Qatar were exploited because of unethical treatment and dangerous work conditions. 

Labor exploitation, according to Colorado Legal Services, can simply be defined as, “when an employer is unfairly benefitting from their employee’s work”. Although many employees might feel as though they are being exploited, it can be agreed that there is a point where a line is drawn. Through firsthand accounts and statistics, it becomes evident that the treatment of Qatar workers crosses that line. One of the main issues was the unbearable heat that would reach around 109 degrees in the summer months. Workers had to do demanding tasks such as carrying “bags of plaster mix and cement, weighing from 30 to 50 kilos” for up to 10 to 12 floors (CNN) whilst enduring the heat. Many fainted on a daily basis and can experience more long term effects such as kidney failure and cardiac weakness because of the high temperatures. These physically draining tasks combined with the heat had dire effects on the workers. 

There were also problems outside of the worksite. Workers recognized the poor conditions they had to undergo and wished to leave Qatar and find work elsewhere. This would be easier said than done . Workers found it difficult to quit their job because of their recruitment companies. Most World Cup workers had to move to Qatar to work, an efficient way to do this was to sign a contract with a recruitment company. Recruitment companies would help workers move to Qatar for a price but if they wanted to move out they would have to pay a fee that most workers cannot afford. CNN interviewed a worker who was struggling with quitting his construction job and finding a way home. His recruitment company told him, “he would have had to pay 2,000 to 3,000 Riyal ($549-$823) to buy himself out of his contract.” This is about the same amount of money that he paid to originally move to Qatar. Because many migrant workers used recruitment companies, workers felt trapped and had to continue enduring their harsh conditions with no support. 

In conclusion, the 2022 World Cup hosted in Qatar provided many job opportunities for struggling families but overall exploited its workers. Construction workers have said that the heat and physical work formed a very dangerous environment. Even with these threats, workers still had to continue their work because they didn’t have a way back home. The employees had come to Qatar hoping for a chance to improve their life and their families’ life, but instead were met with immoral treatment that only benefited the employer.