Opinion: Why I am not watching the World Cup this year …




This is a very personal story but I feel it is important to highlight to everyone why I will not be watching the World Cup.

A few years ago, while I was working out in the Middle East, I had the chance to do some charity work in a labour camp; yes that’s what they are called. We went in to provide phone cards so the ‘workers’ could phone home. As soon as I arrived in the building I had to run out as I was being physically sick from the awful stench of body odour, urine, faeces and stale food all mixed together.

A few minutes later (with some menthol rub on my nose) I went back in to offer the phone cards. The sight that I saw in there was beyond my worst expectations. These men were sleeping in a room where three of the four walls were lined with triple bunk beds. The only free floor space was just big enough for them to have a single hot plate to cook on. All their clothes and possessions had to stay on their beds as the room with nine people didn’t have space for wardrobes.

Their washing facilities were repulsive with rows of eight toilets (all open with no privacy) on one side, with rows of sinks for washing clothes, plates and hands, lined opposite the toilets.

While all these abhorrent living conditions are going on, there are other factors that these poor souls have to go through. They do not get annual leave, in many cases they work for two years with one day of rest a week. They are not afforded suitable medical insurance (in these countries there is no National Health Service) which is why there are rumours of deaths of up to 6,000 people. And lastly, upon entering the country their passports are taken off them and held until they leave the country. The entire system is effectively built like modern day slavery.

This is the reality of life for some of these people. And I believe it is people like this who have built the stadiums in Qatar. In my opinion if we treated our pets half as bad, the RSPCA would rightly, be on us. Yet we have allowed hundreds of men to live in terrible conditions so that we can take pleasure from watching football.


Rami is a digital marketer and university lecturer with over 20 years of marketing experience. After spending time working overseas, he now runs a digital marketing & PR company in the UK.

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