World Cup security guards: Unpaid and exploited

They haven’t been paid salaries for the last two months. Meet two African security guards that work for a company that has several Fifa and World Cup assignments during the tournament in Qatar.

By Samindra Kunti

On a corner of a bustling street on the outskirts of Doha, migrant workers from the subcontinent as well as Africa mingle, drink chai and chat. A humongous rat sneaks away behind a tree. It’s the eve of the World Cup, the sporting extravaganza that spurred the city’s super-acceleration and Qatar spending in excess of 200 billion US dollars. In this part of the Qatari capital, there is little sign of the tournament. Life goes on. Vans constantly drop off and pick up migrant workers. Across the street, the entrance of a supermarket is decorated with a few flags from the 32 World Cup finalists. Dressed in a replica Argentina shirt, a man saunters about. 

Then two boys from West Africa appear. Fresh from playing football, they are walking on football shoes with small cleats. David is 17 and Paul is 18. The former faked his age to enter Qatar. The boys’ families sold their land properties to pay the recruitment agent in the local currency a sum of 2,500 euro each so that the pair could go in search of a different life and much-needed income. But on arrival in Doha in March, the jobs the recruitment agent had promised did not exist. It was the rule rather than the exception. A lot of David and Paul’s compatriots touched down at Hamad Airport to soon find themselves in a world of abuse. They struggled to get ‘accommodation’, a sleeping quarter. There was no money, no food and little prospect of a somewhat stable future in a distant, foreign country with strict and repressive labour laws. 

Left to fend for themselves...

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