'Enjoying our sweat': Migrant workers who built Qatar World Cup 2022 stadiums
The government claims to have implemented labour reforms, including a minimum monthly wage of 1,000 Qatari rials, or about $275, which is higher than many people can earn back at home. The average match ticket for the opener was $200, but the industrial fan zone was free.
Thousands of migrant workers gathered in a Doha stadium to watch the first match of the Middle East World Cup, taking selfies from the stands and sitting on the grassy pitch.
The special fan zone set up on the city's outskirts includes a stadium with a massive TV screen and another large screen outside for an overflow crowd. It is located near several worker camps, which house hundreds of thousands of low-income Qataris.
"We're here to enjoy our sweat right now," asserted Ronald Ssenyondo, a 25-year-old Ugandan cheering for Qatar on Sunday.
He'd been in Qatar for two years, working long hours in the sun to complete the stadiums for the tournament. He added, "I'm just overwhelmed with what I'm seeing right now."
The wealthy gas-producing country has 2.9 million residents, most of whom are foreign workers ranging from low-wage construction workers to high-ranking executives.
Human rights organisations have accused authorities of failing to protect low-wage workers, including those who built stadiums and hotels for World Cup fans, from overwork, unpaid wages, and poor living conditions.
The government claims to have implemented labour reforms, including a minimum monthly wage of 1,000 Qatari rials, or about $275, which is higher than many people can earn back at home.
The average match ticket for the opener was $200, but the industrial fan zone was free. Thousands of people flocked to cheer on Qatar on Monday, groaning as Ecuador won 2-0.
According to Reuters, it was the closest they'd get to a game all month. "I'm coming here because tickets are too expensive for my sisters and brothers in Ethiopia," said Ali Jammal (26), who has worked in Qatar for five years.
One of the few women watching, a nurse from Nepal, said she wouldn't be able to watch any other matches due to her long shifts at a hospital.
Mohammad Ansar, a 28-year-old Indian who has been working in Qatar since earlier this year, said he was volunteering with FIFA at two of the upcoming matches so that he could watch them live. On Sunday, however, he was grateful to be with coworkers watching on a screen, despite Qatar's defeat.
"They are also considering poor people by providing this stadium for free," he claimed. Others were watching from their homes, such as Amirul Hussein, who was in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with friends to watch the opener. He had been working on stadiums in Qatar for four years and was returning home for a short visit with his family. "I'm eager to watch the FIFA World Cup games. Of course, I would feel even better if I could be there," he said.