England striker Harry Kane is urged to stand up for migrant workers by a worker owed £1,500 in unpaid wages for his work at the World Cup stadium where England will face the US on Friday.
The Nepalese worker toiled for less than £10 a day to help build the brand new 60,000-seat Al Bayt facility, which is 20 miles from Qatar’s capital, Doha, and he claims he has never received wages and a received severance pay due to him at the end of his contract.
In desperation, Narayan Prasad Sigdel has recorded a video message with a human rights group imploring Kane and other international footballers to use the World Cup to help secure wage deductions and fair wages for migrants.
A worker in Qatar has urged England captain Harry Kane to stand up for migrant workers
The video once again highlights the inconvenient truth of the competition being hosted in Qatar just days after players from England and Wales were banned from wearing “One Love” armbands during the tournament, which were intended to show support for LGBTQ communities.
Thousands of migrant workers have lost their lives and toiled for pitiful wages, often in excruciatingly hot conditions, to build the infrastructure to host the tournament in the 12 years since Qatar was awarded the FIFA World Cup.
The wealthy oil state, on the other hand, hopes to use the event to promote itself around the world and FIFA will collect more than £3 billion in revenue from the match.
Meanwhile, players like Kane, whose weekly salary at Tottenham Hotspur is estimated to be £200,000 a week, are earning the daily wages of a low-paid worker or hotel worker every 30 seconds.
Still, in the video message, the worker graciously wishes Kane and England the best of luck, insisting that the Three Lions win the World Cup, but asks them to use their platform to “stand up for the suffering of the workers” in Qatar.
“What I’d like to say to Harry Kane [and] these international players come to play the World Cup [is] we request you to stand up for the workers who are suffering in the World Cup stadium through the media or in any way you can help us,” said Sigdel, who has now returned to his wife and three children in Nawalpur district of Nepal, about 80 kilometers east of the capital, Kathmandu.
Kane played a key role for England in their impressive 6-2 win against Iran on Monday
“If workers can be paid decently because you say something, please do it!” he added in the video created by human rights group Equidem and shared with Mail Online.
“I wish you all the best for the upcoming World Cup,” he told Kane. “And hope your team manages to take first place.”
More than 6,500 migrant workers from five countries — Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka — died in Qatar between 2010 and 2020, according to figures compiled by their home countries and compiled by The Guardian last year. Their deaths are largely unexplained due to a lack of investigation or record keeping by the Qataris.
Narayan Prasad Sigdel shared how he owes £1,500 in unpaid wages for work on stadiums
In addition, widespread abuse of workers during the construction of stadiums and other facilities, and in the state’s revolving hotels in the Middle East, has been recorded by human rights groups.
The controversy-ridden World Cup kicked off with an extravagant opening ceremony on Sunday, followed by a mediocre performance from the hosts, who lost 2-0 to Ecuador.
On Monday, England beat Iran 6-2, with Kane claiming two assists, and Wales drew 1-1 against the US, thanks to a late equalizer from Gareth Bale.
Equidem has continued to interview staff at stadiums into the final weeks of preparation for the tournament, claiming abuses continue despite improvements in labor laws.
Equidem, specialized in labor rights, has spoken with 60 stadium employees about wages and working conditions for two years. Their investigation was only completed in October. They found abuses in all eight stadiums of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
He helped build the World Cup’s Al Bayt stadium, where England will play against the US on Friday
The Equidem report, titled “If We Complain We Are Fired,” was published this month and said 15 percent of those interviewed claimed they were on unpaid wages, nearly half pointed to rights violations and all said they were forced to to pay illegal recruitment fees.
Sigdel, who is in his 30s, said he was paid 1,000 Qatari Rials (about £230) a month, net of food. He said he was illegally charged more than £400 in recruitment fees to work in Qatar in December 2019, which was never refunded.
He completed his work in the small Middle Eastern country, where he was a driver at Al Bayt stadium, in March this year, and was deducted a further £1,500, he claimed to Equidem.
“Whatever the government says and whatever pretext, it tries to hide the truth,” Sigdel said. “There are thousands of workers like me who don’t get what they owe. We are many.’
Mustafa Qadri, CEO of Equidem told Mail Online that employee abuse is still widespread.
The Nepalese worker toiled for less than £10 a day to help build the new 60,000 seat venue
‘So many workers have not been paid. It should be simple: you work and you get paid.
“Billions of dollars have been put into this tournament and billions more will come out and this worker has not paid a small amount in comparison, but it is a huge amount for him and his family and he has earned it. That money would make a huge difference to him.
Narayan mentions Harry Kane and it shows that the England captain is a world figure and he is looked up to even in Nepal. When we were in Narayan’s village, children were running around in English uniforms.
England are a popular team worldwide and people are watching. If Harry Kane made a statement on this, it would be very, very significant.
And if Qatar – or FIFA – doesn’t commit to pay Narayan, I hope the England team or the FA will show them and pay for them. It would have a huge impact.
American talisman Christian Pulisic shone on Monday during his team’s 1-1 draw against Wales
“We are tracking down thousands of workers who are owed money in this way,” Qadri added. “The government of Qatar says ‘we reformed the law and everything is fine’. But it’s not. The workers are terrified.’
Under pressure from human rights organizations and FIFA, Qatar has implemented reforms in its labor system in recent years.
However, critics say the changes have not been fully implemented and there are also concerns that a compensation fund for families of the dead has not been established.
Speaking to Equidem, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy of the FIFA World Cup 2022, the rights group’s report said it “gives a wholly unbalanced view of the significant progress” it has made.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been heavily criticized for his close relationship with Qatar
The Supreme Committee said the introduction of Workers’ Welfare Standards has “guaranteed decent working and living conditions.”
“The WWS are designed to protect their health, safety and well-being and to ensure that they are treated with the utmost dignity and respect,” the Supreme Committee added. “Most importantly, the WWS are embedded in our procurement process… and are contractually binding.”
The Supreme Committee says it monitors construction sites and takes action against companies that do not meet the standards. It claims that more than 49,000 workers have been reimbursed after paying illegal recruitment fees.
One thousand Riyals a month is now the minimum wage in Qatar, under a new law introduced last year requiring employers to provide room and board, or pay an allowance of 500 QR for food and 300 QR for housing.
Infantino insisted he “felt like a migrant worker” in a bizarre pre-tournament speech
Ahead of the tournament, FIFA sparked controversy when it urged competing teams to “focus on football” rather than “get swept up in any ideological or political struggle.”
On the eve of the tournament, FIFA President Gianni Infantino demanded that Western countries “stop teaching moral lessons” about human rights.
In a bizarre press conference, Infantino said: “Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel handicapped. Today I feel (like) a guest worker.’