The invisibles

In the shadow of the vast gold-clad bowl Lusail stadium, the World Cup’s 1 billion-dollar centrepiece venue resembling the ark of Noah, Joseph sums up his existence, his fate tied to that of the World Cup: “No one sees us.”

By Sam Kunti

In November, he came on a short-term contract from Kampala, Uganda, to help serve World Cup fans. Lining the counters and selling Coca-Cola and Bud Zero, he is a cashier at Lusail Stadium, but the supporters hardly notice him. They don’t talk to him. He is one of the thousands of faceless men who help run what once was the greatest show on earth. 

His labour camp has no name. It’s not on Google maps, and yet it sits in plain sight, wedged between spectator entrances and the endless facilities that come with a mammoth ground that will host the World Cup final. Adjacent to the Hayya resolution centre and the golf cart parking, David and other faceless men sleep, shower and eat rice with chicken and vegetables on repeat. A few hundred metres away, VIPs, A-listers and football legends pass through the VIP entrance to indulge in premier hospitality and watch the very best the global game has to offer. 

Joseph is a Brazil fan and watches their matches when he can on his mobile in the concessions area. Then he trundles back to the camp that is fenced off, where cameras monitor the perimeter and security guards the entrance where a big Qatari flag flies. The sanitary is dirty and the rooms are cramped. In the heart of the camp, the welfare office is located. It’s supposed to look after the workers’ needs, but they are failing. David complains about the working hours, often in the heat. The norm is 12 hours, but sometimes his duty is stretched to 13-14 ho...

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