As many as 500 migrant workers have died in connection with the Qatar World Cup, a lead official said this week.
In an interview with Piers Morgan, Hassan Al-Thawadi—who serves as Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy—was asked to provide an “honest, realistic total” for the number of migrant workers whose deaths were “a result of” work done in connection with the global football tournament.
“The estimate is around 400, between 400 and 500,” he told Morgan, as seen in the interview excerpt below. “I don’t have the exact number. That’s something that’s being discussed.”
Al-Thawadi went on to state that “one death is a death too many, plain and simple,” though he also pointed to what he said were continued improvements on World Cup-associated work sites.
“The improvements that happened isn’t because of the World Cup,” he added. “These are improvements that we knew we had to do because of our own values.” Instead, Al-Thawadi said, the World Cup served as a “vehicle” and “accelerator” for progress in this area.
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According to a statement from the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, per a report from the Associated Press, Al-Thawadi’s estimate included “national statistics covering the period of 2014-2020 for all work-related fatalities (414) nationwide in Qatar.”
Numerous groups have been critical of preparations and other issues surrounding this year’s World Cup festivities, including the international Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization. This month, HRW shared a 42-page guide for those tasked with reporting on Qatar World Cup-related issues. In it, HRW pointed to what the organization described as “thousands of unexplained migrant worker deaths” and other areas of concern surrounding the event.
“The World Cup draws immense international media and fan attention, but the tournament’s dark side is overshadowing football,” Minky Worden, HRW’s director of global initiatives, said in a statement shared earlier this month.