Somewhere between 400 and 500 migrant workers have died building stadiums for the 2022 World Cup, according to a top Qatari official.
Hassan Al-Thawadi, the secretary general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy in Qatar, admitted to the figure in a recent interview with Piers Morgan.
That number is significantly higher than the 40 deaths the Supreme Committee has ever previously offered up — but still pales in comparison to the 6,500 The Guardian reported last year.
Al-Thawadi finally acknowledged that Qatar’s efforts to protect these workers had been insufficient — but attempted to soften the numbers by saying that his country has made concerted efforts to improve conditions.
“One death is a death too many, plain and simple,” he said in the Morgan interview. “Every year, the health and safety standards on the [World Cup] sites are improving.
“Overall, the need for reform in itself dictates that, yes, improvements have to happen. And just so we’re clear, this was something that was recognized before we bid.”
Even if changes to protect workers have been made, not all of them are being realized: Seasoned soccer journalist Grant Wahl says that many of the laws protecting workers in Qatar had not been followed in the leadup to the World Cup.
Meanwhile, FIFA has faced criticism for refusing to establish a $440 million fund to assist migrant workers and their families who were affected by the poor working conditions at the World Cup stadiums.