World Cup chief Hassan Al-Thawadi said that between 400 and 500 migrant workers have died as a result of work done on projects connected to the tournament – a greater figure than Qatari officials have cited previously.
In an interview with Piers Morgan which aired on TalkTV on Monday, Al-Thawadi was asked about the number of fatalities among migrant workers as a result of the work to prepare Qatar for the tournament.
Al-Thawadi said three had died in incidents directly connected with construction of the stadiums, and 37 deaths were attributed to other reasons.
Pressed by Morgan about number of deaths among migrant works in the wider efforts to get Qatar ready for the World Cup, he said: “The estimate is around 400, between 400 and 500.”
“I don’t have the exact number, that’s something that’s been discussed. One death is too many, it’s as simple as that.”
Al-Thawadi added: “I think every year the health and safety standards on the sites are improving, at least on our sites, the World Cup sites, the ones that we’re responsible for, most definitely.”
A spokesperson for Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) on Tuesday confirmed that there had been three work-related deaths during the construction of World Cup stadiums and 37 non-work-related deaths.
“Separate quotes regarding figures refer to national statistics covering the period of 2014-2020 for all work-related fatalities (414) nationwide in Qatar, covering all sectors and nationalities,” the spokesperson added in a statement.
CNN asked the committee to explain the apparent discrepancy between Al-Thawadi’s reference to migrant workers and its statement’s reference to “all nationalities” but it did not provide a response.
The Guardian reported last year that 6,500 South Asian migrant workers have died in Qatar since the country was awarded the World Cup in 2010, most of whom were involved in low-wage, dangerous labor, often undertaken in extreme heat.
The report did not connect all 6,500 deaths with World Cup infrastructure projects and has not been independently verified by CNN.