EXCLUSIVE: Qatar fights back – “No workers have died on Qatar World Cup projects”


The Qatari government speaks to LondonlovesBusiness.com

Qatar has denied any workers have died in construction of its World Cup venues.

The state’s acquisition of and preparation for the 2022 football tournament has been under the microscope recently as allegations of corruption at FIFA and mistreatment of workers on construction sites have reached the spotlight.

The Qatari government contacted us this morning to make its side of the story clear.

Some quick background info

Last year we wrote a story about the number of people who have died in construction in Qatar in the run up to the world cup, which recently attracted a lot of attention. Our article This graph shows the sickening extent of the Qatar World Cup deaths was posted on link sharing site reddit.com, picked up by various other news sources, and has remained top of our “Most Popular” box for more than a week.

The concept of the graph was also *ahem* borrowed by the Washington Post, who did a very similar infographic, using much of the same data as we used, from last year’s report into migrant workers’ conditions by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

We’ve included our graph at the bottom of this article for context, if you haven’t seen it.

Qatar fights back

Today we received an email from the communications office of the State of Qatar, which wanted to respond to some of the claims in the article, which it says are “inaccurate and misleading”.

Here’s the email in full:

“These figures have absolutely no basis in fact. After almost 5 million man-hours of work, there have been no fatal industrial accidents on World Cup projects. Not one.

“The figures you quote have been calculated by taking the total annual mortality statistics for Indian and Nepalese migrants working in Qatar, multiplied by the years remaining between now and the 2022 World Cup – a calculation which assumes that the death of every migrant worker in Qatar is work-related.

“Qatar has more than a million migrant workers. The Global Burden of Disease study, published in The Lancet in 2012, suggests for example that more than 400 deaths might be expected annually from cardiovascular disease alone among Qatar’s migrant population, had they remained in their home countries. It is unfortunate that any worker should die overseas, but it is wrong to distort statistics to suggest that all deaths in such a large population are the result of workplace conditions, as does your article and graphic.

“To be clear: there have been no fatalities on World Cup projects in Qatar.”

Two sides to the story

Again, just a reminder that the disputed figure of 1,200 deaths comes from a report by the global body ITUC, which represents 176 million workers in 162 countries as an umbrella organisation for trade unions.

As we did not calculate the figures and were not involved in the ITUC’s investigation, we can only go by what is stated in the report.

However, there are always two sides to every story and it’s our job as a news organisation to present both standpoints.

We’ve also updated the original story to include Qatar’s statement.


Qatar World Cup graph updated

As always, tweet me your thoughts @robynvinter




Qatar World Cup sponsor

Why is there not one company brave enough to boycott the Qatar World Cup?


Sepp Blatter and his scaly hands

Blatter resignation hailed by sponsors, as US corruption investigation widens

FIFA Sepp Blatter

Is FIFA finished? Here are five bigshots who think so