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Liverpool backs probe into Qatar migrant worker deaths

by Molly Millar | @mollyamillar | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 11 December 2019 19:49 GMT

AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool - Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, Britain - December 7, 2019 Bournemouth's Aaron Ramsdale in action REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

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The Gulf state has come under scrutiny over what pressure groups describe as poor labour conditions as it prepares to host the 2022 soccer World Cup

By Molly Millar

LONDON, Dec 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Liverpool Football Club has backed a call for an investigation into migrant worker deaths in Qatar after its decision to play there drew scrutiny from human rights organisations.

The Gulf state has come under scrutiny over what pressure groups describe as poor labour conditions as it prepares to host the 2022 soccer World Cup, which it hopes will boost its economy and development.

Liverpool's Chief Executive Peter Moore said the club had raised "a number of concerns" with Qatar and sought further information about Rupchandra Rumba, a 24-year-old Nepali migrant worker who died suddenly.

He was working as a scaffolder at the Education City football stadium, which will host a World Cup match in three years. Labour rights groups say the heat contributed to his death, which was attributed to natural causes.

Moore made the comment in a letter to the directors of human rights organisation Fair/Square, who had called on him to make a public statement ahead of Liverpool's FIFA Club World Cup match next week.

"Like any responsible organisation, we support your assertion that any and all unexplained deaths should be investigated thoroughly and that bereaved families should receive the justice they deserve," he wrote.

Qatar's World Cup organisers declined to comment.

James Lynch, director of Fair/Square projects, praised Moore's response.

"There has been a deafening silence on the deaths of workers in Qatar from institutions like FIFA and its sponsors, who should be rushing to understand why so many young men in Qatar are dying in such numbers every year," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Keen to show it is tackling allegations of worker exploitation, Doha this year adopted a new minimum wage law and will scrap mandatory exit visas for all workers, part of a broad labour reform program.

About 800,000 of Qatar's two million migrant labourers work in the construction industry, including at the Education City stadium, a new venue being built for the World Cup.

Many come from Asian countries like Nepal, India and the Philippines.

The work involves often long hours in extreme heat in unshaded areas, which studies have linked to cardiac arrest and death.

May Romanos, a researcher for human rights group Amnesty International, called on all clubs and teams heading to Qatar to take a similar stand. (Reporting by Molly Millar, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org )

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