World Cup boss Hassan Al-Thawadi has finally shed some light on exactly how many migrant workers died building the stadiums in Qatar.
During an interview with Piers Morgan, Al-Thawadi admitted that as many as 500 workers passed away while working on the official World Cup sites.
As pointed out by Morgan, it was initially reported by The Guardian that around 6,500 South Asian migrant workers had died during the construction of the World Cup site since Qatar won the bid to host in 2010.
Asked for the exact number, Al-Thawad said: “The estimate is around 400. Between 400 and 500 – I don’t have the exact number, that is something that is being discussed.”
Yes, they don't even have an exact number.
Morgan immediately went on the front foot, pressing Al-Thawadi on the figures.
“There will be people, Hassan, who say that's a lot of people,” Morgan said.
“They'll say '400 is a price too big to pay', what do you say to that?”
To which the Qatari official replied: “One is death is a death too many, plain and simple.
“Every year the health and safety standards on the sites are improving, at least the World Cup sites - the sites we are responsible for.
“To the extent that we've got trade unions. Representatives of the German and Swiss trade unions have commended the work that's been done on the World Cup sites.”
He added: “I think overall, the need for labour reform in itself dictates that improvements had to happen. And just to be clear, this is something we recognised before we bid. These are improvements that we knew we had to do because of our own values. Improvements that had to happen.”
Al-Thawadi then spoke about the 2022 World Cup being a “vehicle” and “catalyst” for improving the conditions for migrant workers.
Even after this interview, it remains to be seen whether we'll ever be given an exact number of the tragic deaths.
But when the initial 6,500 figure was first floated, it sent shockwaves around the world.
“The 6,500 figure takes the number of all foreign worker deaths in the country over a 10-year period and attributes it to the World Cup,” a Qatari government official told CNN.
“This is not true and neglects all other causes of death including illness, old age and traffic accidents. It also fails to recognize that only 20% of foreign workers in Qatar are employed on construction sites.”
Reports suggest workers responsible for building Qatar’s stadiums were paid less than AU$2.50 an hour.
In its entirety, Qatar has spent upwards of AU$350 billion on hosting the prestigious sporting event.
Featured Image Credit: YouTube/Piers Morgan/Talk TV