Human rights groups harshly criticised the chief executive of the Qatar World Cup Nasser al-Khater for saying death is a part of life after a Filipino migrant worker died at the tournament.
A Filipino worker who was contracted for fixing lights in a car park at the Sealine Resort - which was also the training site for the Saudi Arabia national team - died after he slipped off a ramp while walking alongside a vehicle.
He fell headfirst against concrete, news agencies report citing the investigation launched into his death.
But later when al-Khater was questioned regarding the worker’s death, he said journalists were trying to paint a false image of Qatar. “Death is a natural part of life – whether it’s at work, whether it’s in your sleep,” al-Khater said, earning criticism for his comments.
According to a report by the Guardian, al-Khater asked journalists if the death is what they wanted to talk about despite Qatar hosting a successful World Cup.
“Look, workers’ deaths have been a big subject during the World Cup. Everything that has been said and everything that has been reflected about workers’ deaths has been absolutely false,” al-Khater was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
He further added that journalists were exacerbating “a false narrative”. “ I think a lot of the journalists have to reflect on why they’ve been trying to bang on about the subject for so long,” the Guardian quoted him as saying,
The Guardian newspaper in the last decade, in a series of reports, revealed the extent to which Qatar went to hide details of human rights abuses committed in the preparation for the World Cup.
The nation stands accused of forcing migrant workers to work in inhuman conditions, not sending the dead bodies of migrant workers to their families after their death and forcing them to work for meagre pay while subjecting them to racist abuse in the run up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Human Rights Watch Rothna Begum told the Guardian that al-Khater’s statements ignore the fact that migrant workers’ deaths were preventable.
Other experts pointed out that demands for investigation into worker’s deaths continue to be raised but the Qatari authorities have written them off as ‘natural causes’.
Hassan al-Thawadi, the secretary general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said between 400 and 500 have died on World Cup-related projects.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy are the World Cup’s organisers. They say that there were three work-related deaths and 37 non-work-related deaths which have occurred on World Cup-related projects.
The Guardian report says at least 6,500 migrant workers, most likely involved in FIFA World Cup related projects, have died since Qatar won the hosting rights of the competition.
The Supreme Committee was not part of the investigation on the death of the Filipino worker because the worker was not under the remit of the Supreme Committee.
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