- Migrant workers hired as security guards for the World Cup in Qatar continue to be denied justice for the abuses they suffered, despite prior warnings and complaints.
- An investigation reveals serious labor abuses that were not properly addressed by FIFA and Qatar, despite Amnesty International’s report highlighting the issue.
- The workers experienced unlawful recruitment fees, false promises, excessive working hours, and lack of rest days, among other abuses, with no effective mechanism for redress.
Hundreds of migrant workers who were hired as security guards for last year’s World Cup continue to be denied justice for the abuses they endured, despite prior warnings to FIFA and the hosts, Qatar, regarding their susceptibility to exploitation. Workers raised complaints and protested against their mistreatment, but an investigation reveals that these serious labor abuses were not adequately addressed. Amnesty International issued a 70-page report in April 2022, highlighting systematic and structural labor abuses in Qatar’s private security sector.
Steve Cockburn, Head of Economic and Social Justice at Amnesty International, stated, “The World Cup organizers were well aware of the issues but failed to implement sufficient measures to safeguard workers and prevent predictable labor abuses at World Cup sites, even after workers directly raised these concerns. It has been six months since the tournament concluded, yet FIFA and Qatar have failed to provide an effective and accessible scheme to ensure justice and compensation for the human rights abuses suffered by these workers. FIFA must now intervene and offer immediate and meaningful redress.”
Amnesty International conducted interviews with 22 individuals from Nepal, Kenya, and Ghana who were among the thousands of migrant workers employed by Teyseer on short-term contracts. The organization reviewed employment contracts, job offer correspondence, and audio-visual materials, including voice recordings of communications between workers and recruitment agents. The information collected corroborated allegations made by other workers previously interviewed by the human rights group Equidem, demonstrating that many others had also experienced similar abuses.
These workers served as marshals and security guards in the lead-up to and during the World Cup, which took place from November 20 to December 18, 2022. They were stationed at various locations, including the Khalifa International Stadium, FIFA fan zones, the Corniche, and the Souk Waqif metro station in Doha, both inside and outside.
To secure their positions, the workers arrived in Qatar in mid-October 2022 and incurred recruitment-related costs. Sixteen of them reported paying more than US$200, with four paying over US$600, which amounted to more than a third of their expected earnings. These costs included recruitment agency fees of up to US$300, as well as expenses for medical assessments, COVID-19 tests, and criminal records checks before traveling to Qatar. Additionally, five workers from Ghana and Kenya incurred travel and living costs ranging from US$85 to approximately US$250 each for a two-week training program in their home countries, during which they received no compensation.
While some recruitment agents assured the workers that Teyseer would reimburse them for these costs, the majority did not receive any reimbursement, despite Teyseer representatives requesting workers to provide written statements detailing the amounts they had paid in recruitment fees. Marcus, a 33-year-old worker from Ghana who supports his siblings, explained, “I had to take out a loan to cover the expenses of traveling to work in Qatar during the World Cup. I am still repaying it, as what I earned was not enough.”
All the workers interviewed affirmed that representatives from Teyseer or recruitment agents made false promises, such as the possibility of securing higher positions with an additional monthly income of US$275, extending their contracts beyond three months, or receiving potential bonuses. However, upon arrival in Qatar, none of these promises materialized.
Richard, a 24-year-old from Ghana who worked at a training ground for one of the football teams, expressed his financial loss due to paying almost US$700 before arriving in Qatar. He received only about US$1,500, resulting in a mere US$780 in earnings. He believes he could have earned more if he had stayed in Ghana. Losing his job as a consequence, he returned with little money and no employment prospects.
Many of the interviewed workers, particularly the marshals, revealed that they had to endure excessive working hours, including 12-hour shifts every day. They worked up to 38 consecutive days without a single day off, without receiving adequate compensation for the additional work, which violates Qatari labor laws. Their responsibilities often required them to stand for extended periods without rest and manage large crowds after matches, all without sufficient training and support.
The abuses experienced by Teyseer’s workers prompted numerous protests during their time in Qatar. Some workers reported their mistreatment through the World Cup Grievances Hotline in November, but no action was taken. One worker claimed that a manager threatened to terminate employment for those who complained and warned them against reporting further issues. In early January, hundreds of marshals staged a protest demanding unpaid overtime and a promised bonus upon completing their duties. However, the compensation pledged by Teyseer and the government has not been honored. As per the accounts of some workers, Teyseer representatives threatened unspecified consequences if they failed to leave Qatar on company-arranged flights or stated that they would have to bear the cost of a new air ticket. Consequently, many workers had to depart Qatar without receiving any compensation.
The migrant workers have been denied access to justice, despite their claims that both Teyseer and FIFA were informed about the abuses. Neither organization took effective action to adequately address the issues and provide timely remedies for the workers. While Qatar has implemented grievance mechanisms, workers must be present in the country to access labor courts and the compensation scheme. Since there is no way to file complaints remotely and they have limited options but to leave Qatar, the migrant workers have been deprived of justice.
The abuses suffered by security guards are part of a larger pattern of harm endured by migrant workers in Qatar since it was selected to host the World Cup in 2010. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers have faced illegal recruitment fees, withheld wages, and lack of redress. Additionally, many workers who contributed to stadium construction, infrastructure development, and tournament preparation have lost their lives, leaving their families inadequately or completely uncompensated.
Qatar and FIFA have yet to establish an adequate mechanism for redress, despite insisting that the existing process in Qatar is sufficient. In March 2023, FIFA announced that its human rights subcommittee would assess the tournament’s human rights legacy, including addressing the issue of remedies for labor abuses.
Steve Cockburn stated, “Qatar’s existing mechanism for redress is inadequate, leaving thousands of workers without compensation for the abuses they endured.” He emphasized FIFA’s responsibility to ensure human rights are respected throughout the supply chain involved in organizing and delivering their flagship competition. Despite the passing of six months since the World Cup, FIFA has failed to effectively investigate the issue or provide remedies, causing workers to endure an already lengthy wait for justice.
Teyseer refuted the allegations, claiming to have followed an “ethical recruitment process” and outlining measures taken to protect workers’ rights on World Cup sites.
FIFA acknowledged that due diligence was conducted on Teyseer but acknowledged differing perceptions and views regarding the experiences of Teyseer’s workers. FIFA expressed the intention to seek further clarification on the raised issues but did not commit to intervening to provide remedies.
Both FIFA and Teyseer confirmed that concerns were reported through the hotline and asserted that they had been addressed.
The government of Qatar responded by highlighting certain measures undertaken in recent years to reform its labor system. However, it did not directly address the specific concerns raised regarding Teyseer or commit to conducting an investigation or providing remedies for the abuses suffered by the workers.