Teenage World Cup workers trapped in Doha

The two teenagers worked as security guards during the World Cup. Almost a year later they still haven’t been paid and are trapped in a shelter in Doha, unable to return to their family in The Gambia.

By Sam Kunti

Last weekend Fifa president Gianni Infantino attended the season finale of the Formula One season, with Dutchman Max Verstappen claiming a third world title on the race circuit of Lusail, not far from Lusail Stadium, the venue of the 2022 World Cup final. On the other side of the city, near the Industrial Area, Saikou, 17, and Jatta, 18, from The Gambia did not watch the race, even if Saikou had seen a poster that the race circus was coming to town.

Their world is very different from that of the Fifa president, a globetrotter executive style, racking up zillion air miles in a private jet, courtesy of Qatar Airways, and cozying up to the brutal autocrat, Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Since January 10, Jatta and Saikou have spent their days at a shelter with little or no freedom. Saikou likens it to a “glorified prison” where “we’re not even allowed to step foot outside.” 

Jatta says: “It’s depressing and it brings nothing but depression. Being away from your family and being locked up. They tell us they are here to help us but in reality, they are keeping us locked up until they decide what to do with us. Sometimes, we fear for our lives.”

That sense of anxiety and hopelessness is permanent. The pair have been trapped for more than ten months after working as security guards during the World Cup for Stark Security, a Fifa partner during the tournament and part of...

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