Nasser Al-Khater, the chief executive of Qatar World Cup, has made a crude attempt to deflect inquiries about a migrant worker who died at Saudi Arabia’s training facility.
The unfortunate news that a worker had died while conducting repairs on Saudi’s training facility at the Sealine Beach resort was revealed on Wednesday.
Since it became known that thousands of migrant workers had died while constructing stadiums, the tournament has drawn a lot of criticism.
Before the worker passed away following the commencement of the competition, this developed into a motif during the preparation period.
The Athletic reported that a Filipino worker named Alex, who was at the five-star resort where the Saudis kept their base during the group stages, was hurt in a forklift accident.
The worker, who was said to be in his early 40s, is said to have fallen head-first against concrete after slipping off a ramp while he was walking next to the forklift. He was to receive treatment from a medical helicopter, but sadly the victim passed away there and then.
Al-Khater attempted to shift attention away from the tragic death of the individual and back to the tournament, which FIFA president Gianni Infantino recently referred to as “the best ever.”
When questioned by the BBC over the incident, Al-Khater stated: “It has been a successful World Cup and this is something you want to talk about. Death is a natural part of life, whether it’s at work or in your sleep. A worker died, our condolences go to his family. However, it is strange that this is something you want to focus on as your first question.”
Prior to the World Cup, The Guardian revealed that over 6,500 migrant laborers had perished while constructing the stadiums, including seven arenas built especially for the event.
After the final on December 18, Stadium 974, which was mostly constructed out of shipping containers, will be dismantled.
A representative of the Qatari administration said: “If the investigation concludes that safety protocols were not followed, the company will be subject to legal action and severe financial penalties. Compensation is paid through the Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund when a worker has been injured or passed away due to a work-related incident, or when an employer is unable to pay salaries.”
While an employee of FIFA said: “FIFA is deeply saddened by this tragedy and our thoughts and sympathies are with the worker’s family. As soon as FIFA was made aware of the accident, we contacted the local authorities to request more details. FIFA will be in a position to comment further once the relevant processes in relation to the worker’s passing have been completed.”
Qatar World Cup Boss Nasser Al Khater Under Fire
Human rights organizations are criticizing Qatar’s World Cup CEO after he remarked, in response to the death of a migrant worker employed for maintenance at a tournament venue, that “death is a natural part of life.”
“Death is a natural part of life, whether it’s at work, whether it’s in your sleep. Of course, a worker died, our condolences go to his family,” Nasser Al Khater said on Thursday.
Al Khater objected to the reporter’s inquiry regarding the employee, a Filipino national who had been hired to fix lights at a Saudi Arabian soccer team training facility, as reported on Wednesday by The Athletic.
According to the outlet, he fell off a ramp and injured his head on a concrete floor before dying in a forklift truck accident.
Al Khater thought it was “odd” that Reuters brought up the worker’s passing right away in their conversation with him.
On Thursday, human rights organizations denounced Al Khater’s remarks.
“The FIFA and Qatari authorities’ responses exemplify their entities’ longstanding disregard for migrant workers’ lives, repeated obfuscation of key facts, and the failure to take responsibility for migrant workers’ safety,” wrote Human Rights Watch representatives on the organization’s website.
They asserted that these fatalities could have been avoided in the first place and accused Qatar of frequently attributing the deaths of migrant workers to “natural causes” or “cardiac arrest” without thoroughly researching them.
According to Ella Knight, an Amnesty International researcher on migrant workers’ rights said: “We and others have been calling on the Qatari authorities to conduct such investigations on workers’ deaths for years to no avail.”
Despite the obvious health hazards connected to working in extreme temperatures, Knight continued, “instead, they continue to simply pass off enormous numbers of deaths as being attributable to ‘natural causes’,” according to the site.
Concerns regarding the welfare of migrant workers and LGBTQ+ rights continue to surround the World Cup competition this year as well as Qatar.
In November, Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, defended Qatar and its human rights record, claiming that the West was being inconsistent in its criticism of Qatar.
Following a report by The Guardian that estimated 6,500 workers have died in Qatar since the World Cup was awarded, Hassan Al Thawadi, the secretary general of the Qatari SC, stated that 400 to 500 workers died during tournament preparations.
Comparatively, eight people perished during World Cup preparations in Brazil in 2014, according to Reuters, while 17 workers perished during World Cup preparations in Russia in 2018, according to Human Rights Watch.