Qatar's World Cup chief slammed as 'callous' by human rights groups
Qatar’s World Cup chief is slammed as ‘callous’ by human rights groups after shrugging off fatal accident that killed a migrant worker by saying ‘death is a part of life’
- Filipino worker identified by onsite crew as Alex died at a Qatar training site
- In response to the fatal accident, the World Cup chief said ‘death is a part of life’
- Human rights groups have accused him of showing ‘callous disregard’ to victim
- Worker’s death is latest in number of migrant fatalities at World Cup projects
- Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results
Qatar’s World Cup chief has been slammed as ‘callous’ after shrugging off a fatal accident that killed a migrant worker by saying ‘death is a part of life’.
Human rights groups have accused the tournament’s chief executive Nasser Al Khater of showing ‘ignoring the truth’ of migrant worker deaths in the country.
The worker, identified as a man named Alex from the Philippines, is understood to have died at a training site after reportedly slipping off a ramp while walking alongside a forklift before falling against concrete.
Confirming the death, Mr Al Khater offered his condolences to the family, but insisted: Death is a natural part of life, whether it’s at work, whether it’s in your sleep.’
Nasser Al Khater, Chief Executive of the 2022 World Cup in Doha, said ‘death is a part of life’ in response to the tragic death of yet another migrant worker who has died at a training site
Two workers pictured near the Disassembly of Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, on Wednesday
Fifa has said it is ‘deeply saddened’ by the death, which took place during the group stages.
And Human Rights Watch representative Rothna Begum today told the BBC: ‘The Qatari official’s comment displays a callous disregard for the migrant worker who has died.
‘His statement that deaths happen and that it’s natural when it does, ignores the truth that many migrant worker deaths were preventable.’
Qatari officials said they have launched a work safety investigation into his death, which happened during the World Cup’s group stages.
‘Death is a natural part of life, whether it’s at work, whether it’s in your sleep,’ Khater said, voicing disappointment at journalists’ questions about the report.
‘We’re in the middle of a World Cup. And we have a successful World Cup. And this is something you want to talk about right now?’ he said.
Online sports publication The Athletic reported on Wednesday that the Filipino worker was contracted to fix lights in a car park at the Sealine Resort, the training site of the Saudi national team. He died after he ‘slipped off a ramp while walking alongside the vehicle and fell headfirst against concrete’.
Citing multiple unnamed sources, the report said the accident occurred during the World Cup, but did not specify exactly when.
Yet another migrant worker has died while carrying out repairs at training base during the Qatar World Cup. Pictured: Workers outside the centre last month
This is yet another tragic death to add to Qatar’s grim treatment of migrant workers. It’s thought that there could be as many as 6,500 migrants who have died while working on Qatar World Cup infrastructure.
Qatar’s officials previously only admitted to three of the deaths.
But last week, Hassan Al-Thawadi – the Qatari official responsible for delivery of the World Cup – told Piers Morgan Uncensored that at least 400 had died.
‘The estimate is around 400,’ Mr Al-Thawadi said. ‘Between 400 and 500. I don’t have the precise number, that is something that is being discussed.
In a statement following the news of the most recent death, a Qatari government official said: ‘If the investigation concludes that safety protocols were not followed, the company will be subject to legal action and severe financial penalties,’
‘The rate of work-related accidents has consistently declined in Qatar since strict health and safety standards were introduced and enforcement has been stepped up,’ the official claimed.
Hassan Al-Thawadi – the Qatari official responsible for delivery of the World Cup -said that at least 400 migrant workers had died
It’s thought that there could be as many as 6,500 migrants who have died while working on Qatar World Cup infrastructure. Pictured: Migrant workers in Qatar
Qatar had come under increasing scrutiny by human rights groups since being awarded World Cup hosting rights in 2010 over its treatment of migrant workers, who account for the majority of the Gulf Arab state’s population.
The tournament, the first to be held in the Middle East where other countries have also faced criticism over migrant workers’ rights, has been mired in controversy with some soccer stars and European official criticising Qatar’s human rights record, including on labour, LGBT+ and women’s rights.
Qatar’s World Cup organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, said in a statement that it was not involved in the Qatari investigation as ‘the deceased [was] working as a contractor, not under the remit of the SC [Supreme Committee]’.
The number of work-related deaths in Qatar is in dispute.
The Guardian reported last year that at least 6,500 migrant workers – many of them working on World Cup projects – had died in Qatar since it won the right to stage the event, according to the paper’s calculations from official records.
In response, Qatar said the number of deaths was proportionate to the size of the migrant workforce, and included many non-manual workers, adding that every life lost was a tragedy.
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