British Prime Minister David Cameron has weighed in on the row over worker abuses in Qatar, following an investigation by a UK newspaper that exposed an alarming number of foreign workers dying in the runup to the 2022 World Cup.
A report by The Guardian last week said that 44 Nepali workers had died in the Gulf state between 4 June and 8 August, prompting Qatar to vow to crack down on companies that exploit overseas labourers.
The International Trade Union Confederation has said that up to 4,000 labourers could die as Qatar spends about $100bn on infrastructure to host the top soccer event.
"My message is that [Qatar] ought to insist on better," Cameron told BBC radio. "We, in the Olympics, I think I'm right in saying, managed to build that entire Olympic Park with the best ever record on safety – no one dying during construction, keeping injuries to an absolute minimum. It can be done. The British construction industry we really can hold up as a good example to the rest of the world."
Qatar’s labour minister Saleh Al Khulaifi pledged to recruit more inspectors to examine working conditions, as well as launching raids on companies to make sure that they comply with local labour laws.
The 2010 decision by world football governing body FIFA to award the 2022 tournament to Qatar has been shrouded in controversy. Not least of these are the summer temperatures seen in the Gulf state, which can reach up to 50 degrees Celsius, prompting some experts to question the health effects on players on fans.
FIFA’s executive committee is expected to vote this week on a proposal to move the World Cup to winter, which could disrupt scheduling in Europe’s domestic football leagues.