In 2015, Christopher Ingraham wrote a critical article for the Washington Post regarding the choice of Qatar for the 2022 World Cup: "The decision to award the 2022 World Cup to the rich Gulf state with a deeply problematic human rights record was a controversial one right out of the gate. There have been extensive allegations of bribery: why else, some figured, award the Cup to a tiny country with sweltering summer heat and no soccer culture to speak of ?".
"As Qatar has begun building the infrastructure to host the World Cup, worker advocacy groups and human rights groups have sounded alarm about whether all the workers needed to build the infrastructure would receive adequate workplace protections. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers come to Qatar each year, and there could be hundreds of deaths even without a World Cup -- figures from the Indian embassy show, for instance, that 200 plus Indian workers died in Qatar in 2010, before the World Cup announcement."
"But the numbers could also be worse: a report by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has estimated 1200 deaths in recent years. If current trends continue, the ITUC estimates that 4000 workers will die in Qatar by the time the World Cup is actually held in 2022."
In a specialized publication, Neha Bhatia deals with the 'no-go' zones targetting the foreign workers in Qatar: "Qatari authorities have reportedly published maps outlining 'no-go' zones for blue collar workers in Doha. The Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning has published a map that highlights the districts where labourer accommodation is banned, according to Doha News."
"The move was spurred by complaints from members of the local community who said that they felt 'threatened' in residential areas that had a large presence of male workers. The decision to carve out special family zones, keeping out labour camps, was announced in 2010. Under the legislation, it is illegal for sponsors to house workers within the central areas, the report continued. "
In 2016, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported information provided by Amnesty International: "Amnesty International says workers at Khalifa International Stadium are forced to live in squalid accommodation, pay huge recruitment fees and have had wages withheld and passports confiscated."
"Amnesty said every migrant it had interviewed had reported abuses of one kind or another, including being:
- required to pay fees of up to $4300 to recruiters in their home country to get a job in Qatar,
- deceived over the type of work and the pay on offer, which was sometimes half as much as they were promised,
- threatened for complaining about their conditions.
International media may have started a change, as evidenced by David Conn for the Guardian in 2017: "The ITUC claims to have secured the agreement of the government in Qatar to significantly improve the physical and employment situation of two million migrant workers, including ending the kafala system, which the ITUC has described as modern slavery."
The ITUC said "employers will no longer have the right to refuse visas for workers to leave the country. Sharan Burrow, the ITUC general secretary, acknowledged that this does not address a central feature of kafala, which prevents workers moving jobs, but she said negotiations would start on that next."
"Other measures the ITUC said it had secured from the government included an end to the human rights abuse of workers having their promised contracts of employment replaced by worse terms when they arrive in the country. The ITUC said contracts would in future be lodged with a government authority. It said the government had also committed to having workers’ committees and a disputes resolution process for dealing with complaints and grievances. Burrow said the country’s ruler, the emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, supported these reforms."
"'This set of commitments explodes the model of modern slavery known as the kafala system in the Gulf States; Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates should now follow Qatar’s lead,' Burrow said."