Migrant workers say their work made the World Cup possible

Thousands of migrant workers have photographed themselves at the opening match of the soccer World Cup in Doha, Qatar

They watched from a special fan Zone near the working-class area outside of the city. The area is home to hundreds of thousands of low-income Qatari workers. There were two large television screens set up, one inside Stadion and one set up outside for the extra crowds.

Ronald Ssenyondo is 25 years old and comes from Uganda. He spent two years working in the Qatar heat to finish the stadiums for the World Cup. He cheered Qatar in the game.

“We are here to enjoy ours sweat now. I’m just overwhelmed with the things I see now,” he said.

Migrant workers watch Qatar vs Ecuador at the special fan zone in Doha, Qatar, on November 20, 2022.  (REUTERS/Marko Djurica)

Migrant workers watch Qatar vs Ecuador at the special fan zone in Doha, Qatar, on November 20, 2022. (REUTERS/Marko Djurica)

Qatar is a rich country with a large natural gas field. Most of the country’s 2.9 million residents are foreign workers, ranging from low-paid workers to influential businessmen.

Human rights groups have drawn attention to the treatment of workers and their lack of protection. The workers, including those who built the stadiums and hotels for the World Cup, are overworked, underpaid and living in poor conditions.

The Qatari government has passed labor reforms that include a monthly minimum wage of 1,000 Qatari rials, or about US$275. This amount is more than workers normally earn back in their home countries.

A ticket for the game costs about $200 on average. For many workers, this price is prohibitive. This means that the special fan zone in the industrial area is available to them free of charge.

Ali Jammal is a 26 year old from Ethiopia. He worked in Qatar for five years. He said: “I support my sisters and brothers in Ethiopia by sending money back, so I come here because the tickets are too expensive.”

Thousands of workers flocked to the stadium during Qatar’s game against Ecuador on Sunday, only to be disappointed as Ecuador beat Qatar 2-0. Some workers spoke to Reuters and said that this game would be the only one fit they could watch all month.

Migrant workers watch Qatar vs. Ecuador - Doha, Qatar on November 20, 2022. (REUTERS/Marko Djurica)

Migrant workers watch Qatar vs. Ecuador – Doha, Qatar on November 20, 2022. (REUTERS/Marko Djurica)

A health worker from Nepal was one of the few women in the stadium to watch the game. She said she can no longer watch games because she works long hours in a hospital.

Mohammad Ansar is from India. He has been working in Qatar since the beginning of the year. He volunteers with FIFA, the football governing body, for two upcoming games so he can see them in person.

But on Sunday he was with other workers in the special fan zone. He said he was grateful to be on screen despite Qatar’s defeat.

“With this free stadium, they also think about poor people,” said Ansar.

I’m Faith Pirlo.

Charlotte Bruneau and Maya Gebeily wrote this article for Reuters. Faith Pirlo adapted it for learning English.

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words in this story

Zone – n. an area that is somewhat different from other areas, particularly in relation to some types of rules

fit – n. a sporting contest or contest between two players or teams

Stadion — n. a very large mostly roofless building that has a large open area surrounded by many tiers of seating and is used for sporting events, concerts, etc.

sweat – n. clear fluid produced by the skin when the body is hot or nervous

overwhelmed — adj. make someone to deal with too much; affected by too many things

ticket – n. a piece of paper that allows you to see a show, attend an event, drive a vehicle, etc.

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