meIt’s a description that was almost overlooked at the time, but one that Qatar was very much in tune with and deserves to be mentioned every day of this World Cup.
“Inquiries and reports in Qatar reveal that racial and ethnic stereotypes operate in both the public and private spheres, according to which, for example, sub-Saharan African men are presumed to be unhygienic and sub-Saharan African women are presumed to be sexually available. , and certain South Asian nationalities are presumed to be unintelligent. The Special Rapporteur received credible reports that, on the other hand, Americans, Europeans, and Australians are presumed to be superior, and whites in general are presumed to be inherently competent in various contexts, such as hiring and promotion decisions.”
This all comes from the report written by Professor Tendayi Achiume, the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, who is a respected authority in this area.
Their work was so sensitive to the Qatari state that, a week after their preliminary findings came out, they canceled a planned visit by the UN special rapporteur on slavery.
The reference to this is intended to reflect another contradiction of this World Cup. The issue of immigrant workers was one of the most dominant controversies in the build-up, and it’s still staring people in the face, but the real reality is now rarely brought up mid-tournament.
That is important in itself and points to the processes in which all this is normalized.
That’s why FairSquare commissioned a video on the subject calling migrant workers “The Invisibles”. You only have to look at the recent momentum, much of it, of course, completely innocent, if somewhat naive, to describe how great this has all been; What a wonderful experience people are having.
the independent He has seen more than one case of someone marveling at how friendly “the locals” are, only that local is a migrant worker. It cannot be stressed enough how these workers are denied the most basic rights of locals, such as the ability to change jobs, and are virtually never able to become citizens.
And of course, it’s your job to be nice. Be more than nice. No type of dissidence or fall in attitude is tolerated. Migrant workers are regularly reprimanded. There was one witnessed case of a man in a 4×4 trying to get into a hotel gym for which he did not have the correct pass, but then threatened to sue the worker for denying him entry and taking his picture as a form of leverage.
This is the culture that has developed out of the system. This is the culture that has spawned one of the most haunting experiences in Doha, but one you experience a lot. That is, migrant workers are obsequiously attentive to the most insignificant things, out of obvious fear of not fulfilling their duties. Otherwise, they obviously feel at risk of censorship.
The plain truth is that it shouldn’t be normal for a human to have to behave like this. it is demeaning. It goes beyond “hospitality”. It is strange and disgusting, as if a low class is waiting for you.
And yet it all becomes so normalized, such an intrinsic yet invisible part of the “experience.”
There are times when it’s hard not to think that this is what elements of the American Deep South must have been like during slavery. It is a subclass of people who are overlooked but at the same time taken for granted and yet underpin absolutely everything in this state. The place could not function without them. For this they receive the opposite of gratitude.
Similarly, it cannot be stressed enough how this is all based on “structural racial discrimination” and “a quasi-caste system based on national origin.” That’s according to Professor Achiume and echoed by various human rights groups, as well as the workers themselves.
A Ghanaian who works on this World Cup said The independent: “Everyone is judged by their passports, and the Africans are in the bottom category.”
This is partly why it’s always going to be a “great experience” for relatively wealthy Westerners, especially if they only spend it in the West Bay or expensive suburbs, and why it’s completely irrelevant.
You only have to talk to any of the workers you meet everywhere every day, to get a glimpse of a world that simply shouldn’t exist in 2022, and especially one that a World Cup should reward.
It’s there when you leave in the morning for work, and there’s a security guard telling you to leave, but it’s still in the same place telling you to come in when you return more than eight hours later. That’s when another worker tells you that he shares a small bedroom with four other people and considers himself lucky because some of his compatriots live with 12.
“My salary is paid late every month because it comes through three layers of people, and everyone gets a share,” says the Ghanaian worker. the independent. “Wages are also going down, although Qatar obviously has enough money to pay.”
They will all have their story, all driven by some kind of desperation, all so embarrassingly different from West Bay luxury.
And this, it must not be forgotten, is one of the Gulf states where the situation has improved very marginally. It is still much worse in the hot spots for footballers and holidays in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Many of the same workers, of course, will tell Westerners that they like Qatar and point out that the wages are much better than at home, allowing them to support their family.
However, there are two important parts to that. One is that of course they are going to say that, as many genuinely fear surveillance and human rights investigators say that in many cases it takes months to build trust. Another is that this is still just basic exploitation, global inequality taken to an extreme, as the richest take advantage of the most desperate.
The World Cup shouldn’t make it easier.
This of course raises the big question of whether FIFA will match its prize money with a compensation fund, as has been requested by a coalition of human rights groups as part of the Pay Up Fifa campaign. There is still public silence
Instead, FIFA would point to how a compensation claim system already exists, which has paid out $350 million to workers since 2018, and that the legacy fund will support the creation of a post-tournament center of workplace excellence, funded by a percentage. of business revenue generated through competition.
Human rights groups believe that these solutions are not actually compensation programs, as they are “just giving workers back what was theirs in the first place: recruitment fees and wages.”
The feeling remains that the governing body is not making enough use of the immense influence of football here. The line remains that “an opportunity has been missed.”
The belief remains that FIFA has not acted on compensation for a reluctance to aggravate Qatar. Such a fund would implicitly mean that the host nation bears a greater responsibility here than it has publicly accepted.
Meanwhile, while such discussions continue, migrant workers make this World Cup really happen.
They ensure that the show goes on, inherent in everything, but invisible.
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