Qatar on track to organise world’s bloodiest sporting event in history

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28 October 2015

Press release

Nepali workers queueing for permits to migrate to the Middle East
Nepali workers queueing for permits to migrate to the Middle East
©Pete Pattisson

“Qatar still on track to organise the world’s bloodiest sporting event in history” say Anti-Slavery International after its labour reforms fail the workers.

Qatar has failed to change its sponsorship ‘kafalah’ system legally tying workers to their employers in any way that could significantly improve the workers’ situation, said the charity.

Aidan McQuade, Anti-Slavery International director, branded the changes to the system as ‘merely cosmetic’ as the rules still apparently require the permission of the employer for the worker to leave the country.

He said: “The reform to the Kafalah system announced in Qatar today are mere cosmetic changes that do nothing to alter the substance of that system, which is designed for the simple purpose of enabling unscrupulous employers to legally enslave vulnerable workers.

“That an employee can leave the country only once they apply to the ministry of labour, and their employer informs the ministry of their approval – as is explicitly stated in the law – tells you everything you need to know about the nature of the system and the power the employers hold over the workers.

“With around 1,000 workers dying every year it remains an imperative for FIFA and its sponsors to use their power to bring an end to this carnage by demanding meaningful reform, including an end to Kafalah and freedom of association for workers as a price for Qatar retaining the World Cup.”

“As it stands the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is still on track to be the world’s bloodiest sporting event since Julius Caesar’s funeral games.”

Note to editors:

For more information and to arrange interviews please contact Anti-Slavery International Press Officer Jakub Sobik on 07789 936 383 or at

Anti-Slavery International, founded in 1839, is an oldest international human rights organisation in the world, working to end all forms of slavery across the world.