A group of more than 200 migrant laborers hired to work concession stalls at the Qatar World Cup’s opening game said they had been left without food, water and toilet facilities for seven hours while they waited for their assignments.
Standing in front of the Bedouin-tent-shaped Al Bayt stadium in Al Khor, the group were desperately trying to contact their employer without success. Several said they had been asked to report to a facility close to the arena before 10 a.m., nine hours before the game was scheduled to start.
The group, mostly made of men from India, said they had signed contracts to work at the World Cup that guaranteed one meal a day and just under $1,000 for 55 days. “It’s a very bad experience,” said one member of the group. The worker declined to give his name out of fear that it would upset his employers, but added, “Our coordinator told us to come here before 9 a.m. but no one was here.”
The group of concession workers were just a tiny part of the army of low-paid workers Qatar has hired to prepare the country to host the World Cup. The treatment of workers in Qatar and elsewhere in the Gulf has drawn much scrutiny in the yearslong buildup to the event. Human rights groups estimating several thousand migrants have died as a result of injuries, heat-related problems and other health concerns as Qatar embarked on a $200 billion reconstruction to prepare for the one-month tournament. Qatar strongly disputes that total, and notes that it has made reforms to its labor laws.
The concession workers were not the only ones left frustrated under the hot desert sun on Sunday: A group of 20 women from the Philippines, hired to sell scarves, found themselves in a similar situation: Three hours after arriving at the stadium, they had been unable to locate the company that hired them. “We’ve walked so much, this isn’t good,” said one of the women. They, too, were trying to contact representatives of their company without success.