Love football, but not at any cost

It’s no secret that the preparations for the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 have been appalling for those working to build the stadiums. The conditions for migrant workers from Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who are working on building projects for the event, are dramatic to say the least.

Many international organisations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have been vocal in asking the Qatari government to change their current legal and regulatory framework, which currently facilitates the exploitation and abuse of migrant workers.

Today I was happy to welcome representatives of the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions to the European Parliament to discuss the state of play of the situation in Qatar.

The details emerging are astounding. Reports on Nepalese migrant workers alone show that one worker died every two days in 2014. The International Trade Union Confederation estimates that building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup has cost over a thousand migrant worker lives in total.

This morning’s meeting comes at an important moment, with the FIFA executive due to confirm the dates for the Qatar 2022 World Cup tomorrow. Earlier this week, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said that “more must be done” to improve working conditions in Qatar as it prepares to stage the 2022 World Cup. But this comment is far too little, far too late — it’s nothing more than window dressing before tomorrow’s announcement.

So, for the billions of us who love football and look forward to the tournament every four years, we have to ask ourselves: do we really want to watch a World Cup with such human cost?

I do not believe that a World Cup should be organised at the expense of thousands of human lives. The World Cup in Qatar should simply not take place, and a new and transparent process should be opened as soon as possible to appoint a new host country.

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