29 December 2015, The Tablet

Cardinal calls for boycott of Qatar World Cup

A German cardinal who is an avid football supporter has called for the 2022 World Cup to be withdrawn from Qatar over its treatment of migrant workers, writes Christa Pongratz-Lippitt.

If the World Cup is still held there, football fans should boycott it, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki told the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung shortly before Christmas. Qatar is enticing migrant workers to come to Qatar with false promises, exploiting them and treating them “like animals”, Cardinal Woelki alleged.

He could not understand how it had been possible to choose Qatar in the first place as its reputation for exploiting migrant workers was no secret, he said. “On arrival, migrants have their passports taken away and are humiliated and dehumanised,” said Woelki. There had, moreover, been numerous fatal accidents on the building sites and, according to the latest reports, thousands of migrant workers had died, he said.

“FIFA [world football’s governing body] should show that it is in no way prepared to support this kind of behaviour and that, under such conditions, the tournament cannot be held there. It should withdraw the World Cup from Qatar,” Cardinal Woelki said.

The Washington Post and other media last summer reported that  1,200 migrant workers, mostly Indians and Nepalese, had died in Qatar since 2010. Qatar says there have been no deaths among construction workers caused by accidents. Because no reliable records are kept the actual figures are difficult to determine.

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