Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Under Further Review: A World Away In A Desert

"FIFA cannot sit by and see greed rule the football world. Nor shall we." - Sepp Blatter, FIFA President.

A world away somewhere in a desert in the Middle East in the oil-rich country of Qatar people are dying. That's the reality of it, no matter how sad or bleak it may sound. Qatar is making the riots across Brazil look humane and controlled. And to think we are still nine years away from the 2022 World Cup.

The Guardian began publishing details into their investigation of potential vast and ugly human rights violations. 44 migrant workers died in the span of a little over two months from June 4 to Aug. 8; a trend that if continued, would leave about 4,000 migrant workers dead by the time the 2022 World Cup came around.

Many of these migrant workers come from the poor, neighboring country Nepal. Qatar is an oil and natural gas-rich country and the richest in terms of income per capita. Qatar's workforce is made up of about 1.2 million migrant workers -- about 90-percent of their workforce -- with the majority coming from Nepal and India. The Nepalese make up for an estimated 400,000 of that 1.2 million figure. Reportedly, Qatar may need to add up to one million more migrant workers to complete the World Cup projects.

The project that the Nepalese migrant workers are currently working on is Lusail City. Yes, they are building a city from scratch. The Lusail City project is not exactly a direct World Cup project, more tangential if anything. The city will eventually become home to a 90,000 seat stadium, which will be the main World Cup stadium. Lusail City is a part of a major infrastructure project where Qatar is using the World Cup as a reason to expedite. With World Cup stadium costs included, Qatar plans to spend over $84 billion on the plan.

Lusail City sounds extravagant. The entire 2022 World Cup sounds extravagant. It likely will be. Oil royalties are known to spend and live lavishly. However, the wealthy Qataris do not seem to fond on footing fair labor bills.

Working conditions are downright horrifying. 122-degree heat. 12 men per room. 12 to 16 hour workdays. No food for 24 hours. Water breaks refused. Identification cards withheld for months. Escape impossible.

Modern-day slaves is what they are. They work under the kafala system, which helps bring migrant workers to a country via a sponsor that is in-turn responsible for the worker's legal status. Some may dismiss the term slave as too harsh; however, combining the unfathomable working conditions with inability for these workers to leave and the incalculable wealth of those overseeing the workers. Imagine a desert as a plantation with the crops being cities and futuristic infrastructure.

Amazingly, perhaps, is the fact that FIFA foresaw this entire situation. Part of the agreement -- feel free to take the word agreement as loosely as you feel -- between FIFA and Qatar in awarding Qatar the 2022 World Cup was that they would clean up their human rights. Qatar has never been the shining example of human rights progression, and even under the guise of an agreement with FIFA, Qatar is failing.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said in the past that greed should never find its way into the beautiful game. Qatar may be using the beautiful game to build a beautiful city, but how beautiful can the city or the World Cup be if it is stained with blood?

Perhaps ESPN's Jeff MacGragor said it best; "No game is worth a single human life. Simple."




Kevin Rossi is a junior Drexel Sport Management major with minors in Communications and Business Administration. Since joining the SMTSU, Kevin has worked his way up the ladder to President. Currently, Kevin is also the Drexel editor for Kevin recently finished his second co-op with Temple University in their Athletic Communications office where he still writes football program feature stories and volunteers on gamedays. Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

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