More than 6,500 laborers from south Asia have died in Qatar in the 10 years since the country won its FIFA World Cup bid.
The figures were revealed in a report by The Guardian that analyzed statistics from embassies in the Gulf country and governments of workers’ home countries.
A total of 5,927 migrant workers from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka died in Qatar between 2011 and 2020, and 824 Pakistani workers died between 2010 and 2020.
“A very significant proportion of the migrant workers who have died since 2011 were only in the country because Qatar won the right to host the World Cup,” Nick McGeehan, a director at FairSquare Projects, an advocacy group that specializes in Gulf labor rights, told The Guardian.
A total of 37 of the deaths were directly linked to the construction of World Cup stadiums.
The most commonly-reported cause of death overall was “natural causes,” a conclusion which is often arrived at without an autopsy taking place to determine a medical cause.
“The mortality rate among these communities is within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population. However, every lost life is a tragedy, and no effort is spared in trying to prevent every death in our country,” said a Qatari government spokesperson.
The World Cup in Qatar’s organizing committee told The Guardian: “We deeply regret all of these tragedies and investigated each incident to ensure lessons were learned. We have always maintained transparency around this issue and dispute inaccurate claims around the number of workers who have died on our projects.”
A FIFA spokesperson added: “With the very stringent health and safety measures on site… the frequency of accidents on FIFA World Cup construction sites has been low when compared to other major construction projects around the world.”