Saturday 23 September 2017

British man dies while working on 2022 World Cup stadium in Qatar

Construction work at the Khalifa Stadium in Doha, Qatar (AP)
Construction work at the Khalifa Stadium in Doha, Qatar (AP)

Matt Slater

The organisers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have announced a British man died on Thursday while working on one of the tournament's venues.

In a statement posted on its website on Thursday night, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said: "Earlier today, a 40-year-old British male lost his life working on Khalifa International Stadium.

"The relevant authorities have been notified and the next of kin has been informed. An immediate investigation into the cause of this fatality is under way and further details will be released in due course.

"The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy shares our deepest condolences with the family for their loss."

The multi-purpose venue in Doha - the current home of the Qatar national team - is being extended from its current capacity of 40,000 to 68,000 and will host the 2019 World Athletics Championships. It is scheduled to host World Cup matches up to the quarter-final stage in 2022.

Conditions for Qatar's vast number of migrant workers have been a topic of much controversy ever since the tiny Gulf state was awarded the right to stage the World Cup in 2010.

International media outlets have reported on the high number of workers who have died on building sites in Qatar.

The local authorities, however, have disputed these claims and have repeatedly pointed out that the World Cup sites have a good record for worker safety.

But in a statement given to Press Association Sport, Labour's shadow sports minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan said: "My thoughts go out to the friends and family of the person who tragically died working on a construction site in Qatar.

"This kind of incident is becoming all too common as Qatar prepares to host the World Cup in 2022 and it's unacceptable that basic health and safety precautions are not being followed.

"FIFA and the Qatari authorities are putting profit before safety. New (FIFA) president Gianni Infantino needs to show where his priorities lie, launch an urgent investigation and ensure everything is done to protect workers."

Responding to the news from Qatar, a FIFA spokesperson told Press Association Sport: "FIFA deeply regrets the loss of life following an incident at the Khalifa International Stadium site on 19 January.

"It is with great sadness that we send our sincere condolences to the victim's family and colleagues. We have been informed that the local authorities and the Supreme Committee are investigating the exact circumstances behind the incident."

Last year, Amnesty International released a damning report about conditions for migrant workers at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Titled "The ugly side of the beautiful game: Exploitation on a Qatar 2022 World Cup site", the report accused FIFA of "shocking indifference" to the "appalling treatment" of a workforce Amnesty International said will swell to 36,000 in the rush to complete the stadium's renovation.

The report was based on interviews with 132 migrant workers at the stadium and a further 99 migrant workers who were landscaping the area around the surrounding Aspire Zone sports complex.

It revealed "squalid and cramped accommodation", workers being paid late and/or less than promised, problems with residence permits, confiscated passports and a general culture of intimidation.

Amnesty International general secretary Salil Shetty wrote: "The abuse of migrant workers is a stain on the conscience of world football. For players and fans, a World Cup stadium is a place of dreams. For some of the workers who spoke to us, it can feel like a living nightmare.

"Despite five years of promises, FIFA has failed almost completely to stop the World Cup being built on human rights abuses."

Qatar's record on workers' rights is currently under review by the United Nations agency the International Labour Organization.

At the last session of its executive body in November, the ILO postponed a decision on whether to set up an official inquiry into Qatar's compliance with international labour conventions until March in order to give the country's rulers a chance to bring about meaningful changes.

In a statement released to Press Association Sport, Amnesty International global issues deputy director James Lynch said: "This is the second death at a stadium related to a workplace incident in three months that Qatar's World Cup committee has informed us about.

"It is very concerning and we will be seeking further details from the tournament organisers.

"It's essential that the ongoing investigation identifies what safety measures were in place at the stadium and whether they were adequate, and that the family in particular is kept fully informed of the investigation's progress and findings."

Press Association

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