Figures obtained by the Guardian and confirmed by the Indian embassy state that there have been 717 deaths among Indians working in Qatar since the Gulf nation was awarded the 2022 World Cup in December 2010. That's just the tip.
Add to that the reported 400 Nepalese workers who have died on the job in Qatar. Together, those two countries provide an estimated 38 percent of the 1.2 million migrant workers currently in Qatar, so you do the math—our headline wouldn't have been out of place in using "thousands."
It is impossible to say how many of the deaths are directly related to stadium construction—though the Guardian's analysis of official lists suggest that "more than two-thirds died of sudden heart failure or workplace accidents." (Heart failure is a catch-all cause of death that human rights organizations believe is used to cover up more sinister explanations.)
The head of Qatar's National Human Rights Committee said this week that the death rates among foreign workers are "normal."
International activists have long been banging the gong on the plight of migrant workers in Qatar, many of them working long hours for little pay and in squalid conditions to build nine stadiums and renovate three more in time for the World Cup. Often heavily in debt already, the workers are paid below a living wage and stay in labor camps that can cram 12 men into a room. Some have been reduced to begging for food while not working.
The International Trade Union Confederation predicts that 4,000 workers, most of them South Asian, will die on stadium construction sites by 2022.
FIFA has asked Qatar to reform its lax labor laws, but has said multiple times there is no chance the tournament will be moved elsewhere.