By Peri Kahn
The way the 2022 World Cup was developed might prohibit some from
endorsing the event.
For the past month, the World Cup has captivated the world and has certainly
entranced the White Plains High School community. Every game day, you walk the halls listening to the games being broadcasted from the Ben Q boards. The sounds of fans' cheers and groans can be heard throughout the entire school all the way from Coach Galligani’s team sports class to Ms. Simmons’s lunch period.
The World Cup has served a purpose similar to that of the Olympics in that it brings countries from all over the world together to appreciate a common passion, putting issues “aside” for the given month. It makes people happy. Supporting the team from their home country gives people a sense of pride and national identity.
This year, the World Cup is taking place in Qatar, a small Middle Eastern country that relies on gas for all economic success. With this fortune, Qatar’s government decided to invest in eight stadiums where the soccer matches would be held. The Qatari elites wanted this World Cup to be the most extravagant World Cup yet in an attempt to restore their country’s tarnished reputation.
Unfortunately, the way the extravagance was achieved was nowhere near humane. Instead of paying their blue-collar workers a reasonable minimum wage and providing safe working conditions, Qatar developed the entirety of their infrastructure through the use of a modern-day slave system.
The men in the labor system all come from other underdeveloped countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and many others in and around central Asia. They try to escape the economic turmoil they face at home, where some families make $200 a year, for a place where they can make some sort of income to send back to their families.
Little do these men know they are entering a life where any basic human rights they had in their home countries will be stripped away. Instead, they become stuck in a forced labor system that can only be escaped through death.
When these men arrive in Qatar, they are hired by whatever company is willing to take them and are essentially forced to start working immediately. Now, there are certain laws that were passed in an effort to make the working conditions better for the employees. However, the Qatari government has no interest in enforcing the laws because the low cost of labor is profitable.
A typical workday for these men is certainly nothing like a day of a common blue-collar construction worker in the United States. They are forced to work at least 12 hours a day in blazing heat and direct sun contact, sometimes dying from overwork and heat exhaustion.
As if the actual workday was not bad enough, they come home to labor camps, where they share a living space with hundreds of other men. Living in the camps is just as bad and possibly worse than the long shifts in the sun. The camps are cramped, dirty, and unsafe. The kitchens are filled with bugs and the beds are filled with bed bugs. The few bathrooms available in the entire camp are filled with sewage from overflowing toilets, and the bathrooms have no showers. The workers use buckets filled with water to clean off their bodies.
Although this information has been released by many news sources, the Qatari government still denies the entirety of their actions. When speaking with journalists during interviews, Qatari elites refuse to answer any questions surrounding the living conditions or maltreatment of their workers. In addition, they try to prevent any further exposure of their country’s inequities by not actually granting foreign journalists freedom to tell the truth. Some journalists who have gone to Qatar
have been imprisoned for possessing physical evidence of the truth about the country. They are not only put in prison, but all their video and photographic evidence is taken from them before they leave the country, ensuring nothing gets released.
So, the next time you turn on the TV to watch the final World Cup match, remember the ground the players are standing on was built over the bodies of innocent men who just wanted to make a life for themselves and their families but were stripped of that opportunity because of harsh monarchal rule.