Football

Migrant worker died in an accident at the WC base during the group stage

A migrant worker died during World Championship while doing repairs on the resort that was used as a FIFA educational basis for Saudi Arabia squad during the group stage of the competition.

Open for more than 25 years, the five-star Sealine Beach resort is home to 58 luxury villas, as well as a full-size fitness center, a beach bar, a miniature golf course and several restaurants. This weekend, a room for one at the resort would cost 1,180 Qatari riyals (£265; $324) per night.

During the group stage, before Saudi Arabia left the competition, access to its facilities required FIFA accreditation, which emphasized that these premises were under the jurisdiction of FIFA – football’s world governing body.

But since the tournament began, it has also been home to a tragic accident that claimed the life of a migrant worker and is being investigated by the Qatari government.

Athletics have been told by multiple sources, who cannot be identified to protect their jobs and safety, that a Filipino man, estimated to be in his early forties, died on the premises during the tournament. People who work on the site said his name was Alex.

Alex was involved in a forklift accident where he slipped off a ramp while walking alongside the vehicle and fell headfirst onto concrete.

A medical helicopter flew to the incident, but the worker could not be saved.

He was, according to staff at the site, who remain anonymous to protect their jobs, visiting the resort in his role working for the Qatari company Salam Petroleum and his job was to repair the lights in a car park.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which has organized the World Cup in Qatar, says the incident happened on a public road in the resort adjacent to the training ground. As such, the matter is investigated by the government rather than the Supreme Committee itself.

Multiple sources at the scene, who cannot be identified to protect their jobs, claim the worker was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the incident. It is not known whether one was supplied by the company.

The sources also said they were surprised that the victim and the driver of the forklift were not accompanied by a third worker who would normally assist in the process.

Salam Petroleum has been contacted for comment.

The top committee has previously said its commitment to the “health, safety and dignity of all workers employed on our projects has remained steadfast and unwavering”.

FIFA has previously said that workplace health and safety measures are an important priority.

The incident and the fate of the man became the source of speculation among staff at the complex because they were not officially informed of his passing.

Some actually said that when they first heard the helicopter arrive, they assumed it must be an important dignitary or politician or one of the VVIPS who have been part of this tournament in Qatar. This is partly because the general security of the team’s site was taken over by local police and the Saudis during their stay at the complex, making it difficult to access clear information.

Some of those spoken to at the scene seemed surprised Athletics had become aware of the incident because it had not been communicated publicly.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino – who said in a statement sent to all media on Wednesday that the opening matches of the 2022 tournament had been “the best group stage of a FIFA World Cup ever” – told the European Parliament this year that only three migrant workers died in the construction of the eight World Cup stadiums in Qatar, based on figures provided by the host nation.

However, Nicholas McGeehan of the human rights organization FairSquare previously called this figure a “deliberate attempt to mislead”, as the stadiums account for only about one percent of World Cup-related construction in Qatar.

Human Rights Watch has said the correct number will never be known because “Qatar authorities have failed to investigate the causes of death of thousands of migrant workers, many attributed to ‘natural causes’.”

Nepal’s Ministry of Labor alone says 2,100 of its citizens have died in Qatar from all causes since 2010 – the year this World Cup was originally awarded to the country.

The Qatari official responsible for the delivery of the World Cup last week caused further confusion when he said the number of migrant workers who have died on World Cup-related projects is “between 400 and 500”.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the secretary-general of the Supreme Committee, said a specific figure for the number of people killed was still “being discussed”.

“The estimate is around 400,” Al Thawadi told TV news program Piers Morgan Uncensored. “Between 400 and 500. I do not have the exact number, it is something that is being discussed.

“One death is too many, it’s that simple. (But) every year the health and safety standards at the sites, at least at our sites, the World Cup venues, the ones we are responsible for, are improving. Certainly to the extent that you have unions (praise) the work that has been done on WC venues and the improvement.”

A coalition of human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have previously called for compensation to be provided to the families of migrant workers injured or killed during the construction of the infrastructure for this World Cup. The FA and its German equivalent, as well as World Cup sponsors AB Inbev/Budweiser, Adidas, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, have declared their support for remedial programmes.

Earlier this year, FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “We continue to push for the principle of compensation for the families of migrant workers who have lost their lives or been injured on construction projects.”

FIFA, the Supreme Committee and Salam Petroleum were all asked if they would consider compensation for the family of the worker who died at the training base.

A Qatari government official said: “The incident is being investigated by the Qatari authorities. If the investigation concludes that safety protocols were not followed, the company will be subject to prosecution and severe financial penalties. Compensation will be paid through the Workers’ Welfare and Insurance Fund when a worker is injured or passes away due to a work-related incident, or when an employer is unable to pay wages. More than $350 million has been paid out through the fund this year. The number of work-related accidents has consistently decreased in Qatar since strict health and safety standards were introduced and enforcement has been stepped up through regular on-site inspections.”

The Supreme Committee (SC) added: “Since the incident referred to took place on property not under SC jurisdiction and the deceased was working as a contractor outside the jurisdiction of the SC, this matter is being handled by relevant state authorities. SC follows up with the same relevant authorities to ensure that we are continuously updated with developments in the investigation and have established contact with the deceased’s family to ensure that relevant information is disseminated.”

Qatar’s government was also asked about Salam Petroleum’s involvement but did not comment.

FIFA said: “FIFA is deeply saddened by this tragedy and our thoughts and sympathies are with the worker’s family. As soon as FIFA was made aware of the accident, we contacted the local authorities to request more details. FIFA will be able to comment further once the relevant processes relating to the worker’s death have been completed.”

Sealine Resort has also been contacted for comment.


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