“They get pride and dignity”: FIFA chief Infantino mocks workers in Qatar

“You give them pride and dignity”
FIFA chief Infantino mocks workers in Qatar

Thousands of immigrant workers die in connection with the construction of the infrastructure and stadiums for the World Cup. The criticism is high and insistent. However, FIFA President Gianni Infantino will not reach them. He tries his own story and is proud.

Gianni Infantino believes that the workers on the World Cup construction sites can “be proud of their hard work”. The FIFA president talks about the welfare of workers at an event in Los Angeles. The suffering of migrant workers in Qatar has been documented in several studies. The reported number of deaths in connection with the construction of the stadiums is estimated at between 6,500 and 15,000. But Infantino, who has lived in the emirate for some time, said the construction of the World Cup stadiums and infrastructure would give them “dignity and pride back,” reports the AP news agency.

“One thing we must not forget when we talk about this topic: work, hard work, hard work,” Infantino avoided when asked about compensation payments from FIFA profits to the families of the migrant workers who died in Qatar. The Swiss then went into his own life story and talked about his parents, who once emigrated from Italy to Switzerland.

“When you make someone work, even in harsh conditions, you also give them pride and dignity. It’s not charity. You do not give anyone anything and then make them feel comfortable.” Instead, the migrant workers would have had the opportunity to build the World Cup stadiums. “It’s also a matter of pride,” Infantino said. “To be able to change the conditions for these 1.5 million people. It fills us with pride.”

“FIFA is not the world police”

While Infantino did not dispute the Guardian’s number of 6,500 workers who died, he explained that only three of them died directly at the construction sites. “6,000 workers could have been killed elsewhere,” he says. “FIFA is not the world police and is not responsible for everything that happens in the world. But thanks to FIFA and football, we were able to see the status of 1.5. Accept millions of migrant workers in Qatar.”

They mostly live crammed together in barracks, work under dangerous climatic conditions and sometimes without a break. The labor reforms carried out in Qatar, also under pressure from the international community, were largely aimed at the exploitative “kafala” system in the emirate.

Qatar’s ambassador to Germany, Abudalla Mohammed Al Thani, told ntv.de last summer that the emirate had made “significant progress” in its internal affairs and had “significantly improved working conditions for many professional groups”. However, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) doubted this in an interview with ntv.de in January 2022. “Four years after the promise to abolish the slavery-like ‘kafala’ system, the majority of workers continue to suffer from abuse,” said Hiba Zayadin, Senior Golf Expert at HRW. “The Qatari state continues to largely fail workers.”

In a study from August 2021, Amnesty International showed that 15,021 migrant workers died in Qatar between 2010 and 2019 alone. The report stated that Qatar issues death certificates to migrant workers without investigating the cause of death through autopsies. 70 percent of the deaths were not explained. “Death certificates typically report deaths as ‘natural causes’ or ‘cardiac arrest,'” the study said. This would have nothing to do with working conditions. According to Amnesty International, a well-equipped healthcare system like Qatars should be able to determine the cause of death in 99 percent of cases.

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