World Cup workers: Beatings, jail and deportation

Threats of rape. Jailed for asking your employer to pay the promised salary. Beatings. Migrants working on World Cup projects tell stories of horrific abuse.

By Sam Kunti

Andrew Maganga from Kenya will never forget Qatar. It was in this country that he, for the first time in his life, was treated as a criminal. All he did was demand the salary that was promised to him for working as a security guard during the World Cup. For that he was arrested. His telephone was confiscated, and his mugshot and fingerprints were taken. He was sent to jail. But had he done anything wrong? Had he broken the law?

Andrew sold his father’s land to fund his journey to Qatar, paying the recruitment agent ‘Satmar Agencies’ 7,000 riyals (1,760 euro). He served as a security guard at the media centre QNCC, the main ticketing hub DECC and Stadium 974 where he assisted supporters to their seats during the first-round match between Argentina and Poland. Sitting with his back to the field to supervise fans during the match, he got glimpses of Lionel Messi. He claims that Stark Security, a part of Estithmar Holding, owes him 8100 riyals (2,040 euro) in wages. Hundreds of Stark Security workers who protested, got detained and deported. Andrew did not participate in the protests, but he was still removed from the Gulf nation. 

Andrew says Stark trapped him and the other workers when negotiating at the main office. The police arrived and instead of helping the workers who were owed wages, rounded them up. By bus, they were transported to the detention centre.

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