Mairul Khatun recalls panicking when she could not contact her husband, Mohammad Naddaf, a migrant worker in Qatar, for four days. A search team of friends and relatives found his body four days later.
“His body was in no condition to be brought back [to Nepal],” Mairul said. “I didn’t get to see him. They did his burial [in Qatar].”
But the horror did not end there. According to Mairul’s brother, Mohammad’s employer in Qatar refused to provide any compensation and did not bother to check on the family after his death.
Stories like Mairul’s are sadly commonplace. In the past decade, thousands of migrant workers have died in unexplained circumstances in Qatar, while many more have faced other serious abuses while literally building the FIFA 2022 World Cup. Many have not received any redress.
Now, six months before the tournament kicks off, FIFA and Qatari authorities need to stop making excuses and start providing remedy for the migrant workers harmed and their families. FIFA and Qatar’s World Cup legacy will depend on their response to this decade of abuse. They can start by listening to migrant workers’ stories.
They should listen to people like Manju Devi, widow of Kripal Mandal, who lost his life in Qatar. Not only was she not provided any compensation for his death, his employer failed to pay the 15 days’ salary Kripal was owed for work he had completed. Now his wife is overwhelmed by the debt her late husband took on to secure his job in Qatar.
For every family willing to share their story publicly, there are many coping silently with similar catastrophic losses.
Mairul Khatun and Manju Devi are now trying to ensure their children do not have to go to sleep with an empty stomach. The hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who built the roads, airport, metro, and stadiums essential to FIFA and Qatar pulling off the 2022 World Cup deserve recognition, dignity, and direct financial compensation for harms endured. Otherwise, this World Cup will remain haunted by the deaths of workers and the many other abuses that have left families destitute.