Ever since Qatar won the rights to host the FIFA World Cup in 2010, its treatment of migrant workers has made international headlines. News stories and human rights organizations revealed migrant workers who built the stadiums, hotels, and all the new infrastructure required for the World Cup were being forced to work, not getting paid, unable to leave, and in some cases, dying.
At the heart of the abuse faced by migrant workers is the kafala system. A system prevalent in Gulf states that ties workers to their sponsors, it often gives employers almost total control of migrant workers’ employment and immigration status.
Due to all the scrutiny Qatar has been under, some reforms have been put in place, but the kafala system is more than a law — it’s a practice. And while these reforms exist on paper, human rights organizations say there’s still a long way to go.
To understand how hundreds of thousands of migrant workers were stuck in an exploitative system while building the stadiums for the World Cup, watch our 10-minute video above.
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