Qatari official brushes off migrant worker's death during World Cup

December 9, 2022

Organizers of the International Association Football Federation (FIFA) have been criticized for choosing to hold its annual World Cup tournament in Qatar, a Middle Eastern nation with a history of human rights abuses.

According to The Guardian, that criticism intensified this week after an official brushed off the death of a migrant worker. 

The paper reported that a Filipino man fell to his death as he was attempting to fix a light at the Sealine Resort resort, which is serving as the training site for Saudi Arabia's national team.

Qatari official: "This is something you want to talk about right now?"

However, the Qatar World Cup's chief executive Nasser al-Khater grew irritated after being asked by journalists about the tragedy.

"We’re in the middle of a World Cup. And we have a successful World Cup. And this is something you want to talk about right now?" al-Khater asked.

"A worker died, our condolences to his family but it is strange that is something you want to focus on as your first question," the official remarked.

"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," he insisted.

"We’re a bit disappointed that the journalists have been exacerbating this false narrative," the Qatar World Cup's chief executive complained.

"And honestly, I think a lot of the journalists have to ask themselves and reflect on why they’ve been trying to bang on about the subject for so long," he declared.

Human rights advocates slam official's comments

The Guardian noted that al-Khater's comments were immediately met with condemnation by Human Rights Watch spokesperson Rothna Begum.

"The Qatari official’s comment displays a callous disregard for the migrant worker who has died," Begum was quoted as saying.

"His statement that deaths happen and that it’s natural when it does, ignores the truth that many migrant worker deaths were preventable," she added.

Amnesty International researcher Ella Knight took issue with al-Khater's claim that all workplace fatalities are investigated, stating, "This is simply not true. We and others have been calling on the Qatari authorities to conduct such investigations on workers’ deaths for years to no avail."


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