EXCLUSIVE: Qatar fights back – “No workers have died on Qatar World Cup projects”

The Qatari government speaks to LondonlovesBusiness.com

Qatar has denied any workers have died in construction of its World Cup venues.

The state’s acquisition of and preparation for the 2022 football tournament has been under the microscope recently as allegations of corruption at FIFA and mistreatment of workers on construction sites have reached the spotlight.

The Qatari government contacted us this morning to make its side of the story clear.

Some quick background info

Last year we wrote a story about the number of people who have died in construction in Qatar in the run up to the world cup, which recently attracted a lot of attention. Our article This graph shows the sickening extent of the Qatar World Cup deaths was posted on link sharing site reddit.com, picked up by various other news sources, and has remained top of our “Most Popular” box for more than a week.

The concept of the graph was also *ahem* borrowed by the Washington Post, who did a very similar infographic, using much of the same data as we used, from last year’s report into migrant workers’ conditions by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

We’ve included our graph at the bottom of this article for context, if you haven’t seen it.

Qatar fights back

Today we received an email from the communications office of the State of Qatar, which wanted to respond to some of the claims in the article, which it says are “inaccurate and misleading”.

Here’s the email in full:

“These figures have absolutely no basis in fact. After almost 5 million man-hours of work, there have been no fatal industrial accidents on World Cup projects. Not one.

“The figures you quote have been calculated by taking the total annual mortality statistics for Indian and Nepalese migrants working in Qatar, multiplied by the years remaining between now and the 2022 World Cup – a calculation which assumes that the death of every migrant worker in Qatar is work-related.

“Qatar has more than a million migrant workers. The Global Burden of Disease study, published in The Lancet in 2012, suggests for example that more than 400 deaths might be expected annually from cardiovascular disease alone among Qatar’s migrant population, had they remained in their home countries. It is unfortunate that any worker should die overseas, but it is wrong to distort statistics to suggest that all deaths in such a large population are the result of workplace conditions, as does your article and graphic.

“To be clear: there have been no fatalities on World Cup projects in Qatar.”

Two sides to the story

Again, just a reminder that the disputed figure of 1,200 deaths comes from a report by the global body ITUC, which represents 176 million workers in 162 countries as an umbrella organisation for trade unions.

As we did not calculate the figures and were not involved in the ITUC’s investigation, we can only go by what is stated in the report.

However, there are always two sides to every story and it’s our job as a news organisation to present both standpoints.

We’ve also updated the original story to include Qatar’s statement.


Qatar World Cup graph updated

As always, tweet me your thoughts @robynvinter




Qatar World Cup sponsor

Why is there not one company brave enough to boycott the Qatar World Cup?


Sepp Blatter and his scaly hands

Blatter resignation hailed by sponsors, as US corruption investigation widens

FIFA Sepp Blatter

Is FIFA finished? Here are five bigshots who think so

Readers' comments (14)

  • You shouldn't publish reports like this without knowing that the research is credible and has been conducted rigorously and without any bias
    Clearly, in this case, you (and it seems many others in the media) have spread what seems to be propaganda produced with a political agenda and without any substance based on any facts

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Barry Stevens...???

    Is the ITUC not trustworthy enough for you? But the Qatari government is? Maybe us journalists should never write anything based on official reports then. Come to think of it, if you can't trust a global body representing 176 million workers, who can you trust? Let's just write nothing at all, ever, shall we?

    Have you even read the report? Of course you haven't. I doubt you've even read the article.

    You managed to form an opinion though, didn't you? Well done, you clever man.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    Never commented before although I am a regular reader.

    I dont see any need for your attitude and the personal attack Robyn? Are you just having a bad day, or are you normally so sensitive to constructive criticism? If that's the case perhaps you should not be one of "us journalists"?

    Having read both the report and the original article, there is clearly an issue in respect of workers conditions in Qatar especially those who are not Qatari's or westerners.

    Having said that it does not detract from Barry's point that "us journalists" have a professional and moral obligation to report in a balanced and accurate manner. The key issue with the report is that it compares workers killed due to specific accidents involved in construction of a sporting event with overall population mortality rates of various causes.

    One of the reader comments on the original article also raises the point that some of these "Qatar World Cup deaths" were actually before sites were chosen and construction had begun.

    Overall Mr Stevens has 12 comments to his profile which appear to be thought through, whether you agree with his views or not.

    To say "You managed to form an opinion though, didn't you? Well done, you clever man" quite frankly reflects more negatively on you than it does the commenter. As one of "us journalists", I would have thought you would have welcomed all views, not just the ones you agree with. Obviously not....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Robyn
    Your response is both extremely defensive and offensive at the same time.
    My original comment called for objectivity - all you did was respond viciously and personally - not the unbiased objectivity a reporter should display - perhaps your case would be better made if you had responded with facts not insults?
    I HAVE read the report - you kindly gave as a link to it. Qatar claim that the deaths quoted in the report are not specifically from work-related causes - that is correct. The numbers quoted in the report are arrived at through what seems very dubious statistical analysis/interpretation.Compare how the numbers for the other events were arrived at (e.g. Olympics etc.) - no comparison - the numbers for those events seem to be based on clear, unambiguous facts.
    I don't condone the Qatari authorities and their behaviour in any way - it seems to me to be a brutal regime and culture. But you do humanity and the case for reform no favours if the "facts" presented are fallacious or selective in how they are presented. Yes, you get the headline you want and you get people on your side. But, when they learn the truth, your case is destroyed, however just your cause.
    So, if you want cheap headlines, carry on as you are. If you want to be objective in your reporting and present people with the facts to make their minds up via genuine input, then I'm afraid that you need to try harder.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous - I'd be interested to see something you've written as a journalist. You've got my email address, please send me some links. If you were genuinely a journalist (and I can access your details but of course I wouldn't do that) I think, rather than criticising, you'd appreciate how offensive it is to be accused of spreading propaganda. It's not about the comments I "agree with", it's about how I've clearly worked incredibly hard on all these articles and done a great deal of research, using reputable sources. I'm puzzled as to what part of that you're missing?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Barry - I'm sorry if you're offended by my comment, but I'm very offended by yours. If you've read the report, which I still don't believe you have, I don't know how you can say it's "without any substance". I would absolutely love to know what you do for a living since you seem to be an expert on what I "shouldn't" do. I'm assuming you've also contacted to Washington Post, who produced a very similar infographic to mine, to tell them they "shouldn't" publish anything to do with the Qatar deaths either? They've only got 47 Pulitzer Prizes, but I'm sure Barry Stevens is more of an authority on what should and "shouldn't" be published.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Here's the link to the Washington Post's piece (which was written after mine, using the same data). If you google search the image, you'll see it was covered by a lot of other newspapers too, so you'll probably want to contact them as well. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/05/27/a-body-count-in-qatar-illustrates-the-consequences-of-fifa-corruption/

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    I'm not a journalist, you have misinterpreted my comment. Maybe you could not read it properly through the red mist Robyn?

    I'm just a regular reader of this site who felt you were being pathetic and obnoxious towards a fellow reader who had raised a valid point (about lazy journalism within the media, C4 News ran the story as well), so I commented about it.

    Why are you so obsessed with people's professions who read and comment on this site? What does it matter? You give (me at least) the impression that in your world if someone is not one of "us journalists" then our views and feedback are not valid nor welcome. On that basis I suggest you take the comment section off your articles if the readers of this site can get you so wound up.

    And as to the veiled threats of accessing my details... Makes me think more of the term fascist than journalist.

    Just a thought.


    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • You literally said "us journalists"...? Maybe you should be a little clearer next time.

    Veiled threat?! I think you're the one who isn't reading properly. I merely say I can access your details because there are some people (who may be in this comment thread) who like to comment under their own name and then again as "Anonymous" with a comment agreeing with themselves. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.

    It's always helpful when people comment using their real name, but I understand some people like to criticise others under a veil of anonymity. It's a lot easier to say whatever you want on the internet when people don't know who you are in real life, isn't it?

    I get several comments every day across my articles - most of which I don't agree with. In hundreds of articles I've never had this problem before, but then most people don't call me "pathetic and obnoxious", so maybe that's it?

    Sometimes men don't like women to stand up for themselves. It's a bit of a shock I think. Let me tell you something about what women don't like. They don't like it when people put a kiss at the end of a comment - something you wouldn't do if they were a male writer. It seems patronising - as if you think you're somehow above that person, perhaps, because of her gender or age.

    But in the end, if you'd prefer someone who says "Great comment! Thanks!" to someone who accuses them of spreading propaganda on an article about the deaths of more than 1,000 people, you're not going to find it here.

    I stand by every word of my original report.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Sorry Robyn, from your name I thought you were a bloke!!


    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10per page | 20per page

Social Bookmarks