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Indian worker dies of a heart-attack after leaving the 2022 FIFA World Cup venue in Qatar

The death of a 54-year-old Indian on the World Cup site has raised questions on the increasing number of worker deaths.

The Khalifa International Stadium is slated to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup

What’s the story?

An Indian man working as a carpenter in Doha’s Khalifa International Stadium died of a heart-attack earlier this month. While Human Rights groups have claimed that mishaps to labourers have occurred here in the past, the tournament’s organisers alleged that this was not a consequence of his working conditions.

The context

Doha’s Khalifa International Stadium is part of a sporting complex in Qatar that is slated to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The newly renovated venue is all set to be unveiled on Friday.

As per a Reuters report, 54-year-old carpenter, Jagdesh Kumar, fell unconscious half an hour after leaving the stadium on the 4th of May. He consequently passed away in the hospital as a result of a cardiac arrest. 

This is not the first time that an employee has died on the World Cup site. There have been three other cases of Indian workers succumbing to heart attacks in the last 18 months, according to a 2016 report by the Supreme Committee for Legacy and Delivery which is the organising committee of the Qatar World Cup.

The heart of the matter

In a statement, the Supreme Committee claimed that Kumar’s death was a result of natural causes. While the statement offers condolence and words of sympathy to the family of the deceased, the Committee has refuted any possible connection between the working conditions of the employees and their subsequent deaths.

Having hired labour from India, Nepal and Bangladesh for the $200 billion project, the government has faced criticism from several human rights groups for the harsh working environment, claiming that the workers live without provisions, proper access to water or shelter from the sun.

Despite a lack of clarity in the actual cause of the deaths, there seems to be no public record of worker-related injuries and fatalities. Furthermore, the Qatari law forbids autopsies and post-mortems on the bodies unless it is a suspected crime.

What’s next?      

Denying claims that heart attacks amongst their workers are a common occurrence, Qatar’s government have said that they are in the process of implementing labour reforms and have hired a British consulting firm in an effort to increase transparency by assessing the working conditions in the stadium.

According to the report, their partnership with a university to improve nutrition amongst workers is also a step towards ensuring their well-being.

Author’s Take

Considering that this is not the first incident in the stadium, it is imperative that the Qatari government further investigates the occurrences and possible causes for it. The organisers may not be in control of the increasing heat and natural events that cause the death, but it is possible for them to create a more conducive environment for the workers in order to avoid such occurrences from happening.

The spirit of FIFA calls for sustainability and social transformation through football and this spirit must be extended to those who work tirelessly behind the scenes as well.

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