A Qatar World Cup official has now claimed over 400 worker deaths in the country’s preparation for the tournament. Hassan al-Thawadi, the secretary-general of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, made the statement during an interview with Piers Morgan.

Morgan, who also recently made headlines from an interview with Cristiano Ronaldo, directly asked al-Thawadi: “What is the honest, realistic total do you think of migrant workers who died from – as a result of work they’re doing for the World Cup in totality?”

“The estimate is around 400, between 400 and 500,” al-Thawadi said. “I don’t have the exact number. That’s something that’s been discussed.”

This figure is significantly higher than what World Cup officials have previously claimed. The Supreme Committee once publicly estimated that the total number of deaths in the buildup to the World Cup was 40. This included 37 supposed deaths from ‘non-work incidents’ including heart attacks and COVID-19.

The Guardian reported over 6,500 World Cup worker deaths

However, The Guardian also previously ran their own report on the issue. The British outlet stated that more than 6,500 migrant workers died in Qatar while building World Cup stadiums. These workers mostly came from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

The report, which made waves around the globe, claimed that about 12 workers from these countries died each week since it was announced that Qatar won their bid. FIFA awarded the Middle Eastern country the tournament in December of 2010.

Supreme Committee reacts to admission

The Supreme Committee has attempted to backpedal on al-Thawadi’s recent comments. Officials claim that the secretary-general was actually referring to “national statistics covering the period of 2014-2020 for all work-related fatalities (414) nationwide in Qatar, covering all sectors and nationalities.”

Nevertheless, the confusion, or concealing, how many migrant workers have died raises even more questions on the issue. The recent admission by al-Thawadi will only put FIFA and Qatar under more pressure by advocates and media.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Moritz Müller

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