DOHA, QATAR – MARCH 18: Construction progress at Al Rayyan Stadium, one of the venues for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar on March 18, 2016 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

The rights group Amnesty International is accusing Qatar of using forced labor at Khalifa International Stadium. Workers are allegedly being, “forced to live in squalid accommodation, pay huge recruitment fees and have had wages withheld and passports confiscated.”

FIFA is also being accused of failing to stop the tournament from being, “built on human rights abuses” according to BBC News. Qatar said they would investigate the allegations.

In a statement to CNN, the gulf kingdom’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said:

“We have always maintained this World Cup will act as a catalyst for change — it will not be built on the back of exploited workers. We wholly reject any notion that Qatar is unfit to host the World Cup. Amnesty International’s investigation was limited to just four companies out of more than 40 currently engaged on Khalifa International Stadium. The conditions reported were not representative of the entire work force on Khalifa. Many of the issues raised had been addressed by June of 2015, months before the publication of Amnesty’s report.”

According to BBC, FIFA said that measures had already been taken to improve the situation for migrant workers. Which, if that’s the case, leaves questions as to how bad things might have been before.

“All workers want are their rights: to be paid on time, leave the country if need be and be treated with dignity and respect,” general secretary Salil Shetty said, via BBC.

“If the system in Qatar doesn’t change, then every man, woman and child who goes to the World Cup is likely to meet a migrant worker who is exploited,” Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty’s director of global issues and research, told CNN.

More chilling details, from BBC:

But Amnesty said every migrant it had interviewed had reported abuses of one kind or another, including being:

  • required to pay fees of up to $4,300 to recruiters in their home country to get a job in Qatar
  • deceived over the type of work and the pay on offer, which was sometimes half as much as they were promised
  • threatened for complaining about their conditions

One metal worker from India who worked on the Khalifa stadium refurbishment told Amnesty he was threatened by his employer when he complained about not being paid for several months.

“He just shouted abuse at me and said that if I complained again I’d never leave the country,” the worker said.

“Ever since I have been careful not to complain about my salary or anything else. Of course, if I could I would change jobs or leave Qatar.”

Another metal worker from Nepal said his life was “like a prison”.

Some of the Nepali workers told Amnesty they were not allowed to visit their families after the earthquake last April that killed thousands and left millions displaced.

It’s unfortunate to seemingly hear allegations of the terrible conditions of the workers constantly. The details are certainly not something safe or humane for anybody. Hopefully changes are made to better the situation.

About Harry Lyles Jr.

Harry Lyles Jr. is an Atlanta-based writer, and a Georgia State University graduate.