World Cup security guards still jailed in Qatar after dispute over unpaid wages

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Three World Cup information guards who were detained portion trying to resoluteness a quality implicit unpaid wages are inactive being held successful Qatar 4 months aft their arrest.

Shakir Ullah and Zafar Iqbal from Pakistan, and an Indian national, person allegedly been sentenced to six months successful situation and fined 10,000 riyals (£2,220) each.

The findings, archetypal established by the quality rights radical Equidem and verified by the Guardian, are a shocking postscript to the World Cup, which Fifa promised would permission a lasting bequest of amended workers’ rights successful the Gulf state. Qatar has not commented connected the case.

The 3 men were among hundreds of information guards, employed by Stark Security Services, a section backstage information company, who were deployed astatine cardinal sites passim the World Cup but were laid disconnected successful the days aft the final, with months inactive near connected their contracts.

Ullah, who was affectionately known arsenic chacha (uncle successful Urdu) by his colleagues, was described by 1 arsenic a “calm, quiescent person, but erstwhile it comes to his rights, helium volition not let you to cheat him”.

Calling for the contiguous merchandise of the 3 men, Equidem’s director, Mustafa Qadri, said the men had been punished for simply demanding what they and hundreds of their colleagues were owed aft their contracts were terminated early.

“This is the existent outgo of Fifa’s reckless disregard for the rights of radical who assistance them make immense profits,” Qadri said.

Hundreds of different erstwhile Stark Security workers are besides coming to presumption with their ain traumatic ordeal aft disputing the aboriginal termination of their contracts.

While Lionel Messi lifted the World Cup trophy successful Qatar aft what Fifa’s president, Gianni Infantino, called the “best ever” World Cup, Jacob* and Patrick*, from Kenya, were told they were being fired.

They had spent overmuch of the tourney moving arsenic information guards astatine Stadium 974, which hosted matches involving Argentina, Brazil, France and Portugal and stars specified as Messi, Mbappé and Ronaldo.

They accidental the connection came arsenic a shock, due to the fact that their contracts inactive had 3 months near to run. They were past instructed to cod their last wage for the days they had worked successful December and permission their accommodation.

Just days aft the last they abruptly recovered themselves jobless and homeless. “When they needed you, they treated you well, but present they are done with you, you are thing to them,” said Jacob.

A antheral   poses successful  beforehand   of a motion   saying World Cup Qatar 2022 has his representation   taken
Workers interviewed by the Guardian believed they had been hired for six months but allege that their jobs were terminated early. Photograph: Pete Pattisson

Worse was to come: aft attempting to quality the aboriginal termination of their contracts, the 2 men were allegedly detained and deported on with hundreds of others.

“They accidental it was the astir beauteous World Cup, but astatine the extremity of the time we conscionable mislaid everything,” said Patrick.

In the months starring up to the World Cup, Stark Security took connected hundreds of information guards to beryllium deployed astatine cardinal tourney sites. “Because it was Fifa, we each said ‘let’s join’,” said different idiosyncratic from Ghana.

The Guardian interviewed 9 information guards who worked for the company, including Jacob and Patrick, each of whom had their employment terminated early. Four were allegedly aboriginal deported and 5 others were fired astatine the aforesaid clip oregon soon afterwards but were not deported.

The workers’ contracts, seen by the Guardian, promised a monthly wage of 2,700 riyals (£600) for moving 7 days a week, arsenic good arsenic providing them with nutrient and accommodation.

The 9 workers interviewed by the Guardian each believed they had been employed for six months. Their contracts stated: “Notice period: six months station day of joining.” Under reforms made to Qatar’s labour laws successful 2020, employers and workers tin extremity contracts early, but they indispensable springiness 1 month’s notice.

“We went to Qatar to gain wealth and marque a amended beingness for our family, but the institution and authorities cheated us,” said different fired information defender from Pakistan. “We felt truthful helpless.”

With obscurity other to stay, nary mode to repay the immense debts they had taken connected to get to Qatar and fewer different jobs disposable erstwhile the World Cup had finished, Jacob, Patrick and hundreds of different information guards attempted to negociate with Stark Security and filed a ailment with the Qatari government.

“We told them: we’re inactive consenting to work,” said Jacob. “We person not failed you successful immoderate way, we person not committed immoderate crime; if you privation to halt [employing] us, you person to compensate america for these 3 remaining months.”

But Stark Security told them that determination was nary much enactment arsenic the tourney was over, and, according to the workers, ordered the labour campy to halt serving nutrient to them. “They kept coming to the accommodation and threatening us, banging connected our doorway truthful we would leave,” said Jacob.

On 23 January, astir 200 of the guards hired buses to instrumentality them to the office of a institution associated with Stark Security to negociate for their unpaid wages. Staff allegedly called the constabulary and claimed the workers were blocking the road. The guards said, isolated from their leaders, they did not adjacent get disconnected the buses.

The workers were allegedly taken to a detention centre by the police, with much than 200 aboriginal deported, including the 4 men interviewed by the Guardian, who had been connected the buses.

Eventually, with nary different options, the men interviewed by the Guardian accepted their wages for the days they had worked successful December. Any anticipation they mightiness beryllium paid for the remaining months of their declaration was lost. They said that they, on with each the different men detained with them, were deported wrong a week. Only Shakir Ullah and his 2 colleagues remained.

Equidem said it had interviewed 43 men who had worked for Stark Security and allegedly had their contracts terminated aboriginal and been deported.

For those who accidental they were forced to instrumentality home, the consciousness of outrage and daze is inactive raw. Some blasted the Qatari regime. “Nothing happens without its knowledge. We should person gotten our rights if the Qatar authorities had cared,” said Jacob.

But that choler is besides directed astatine Fifa, which made $7.5bn (£6bn) implicit the 4 years starring up to the Qatar World Cup. “Fifa made large wealth from the World Cup and we merit our share,” said a defender from Ghana.

A spokesperson for Qatar government’s planetary media bureau said an probe recovered that Stark Security had failed to comply with each of Qatar’s labour laws and would beryllium penalised.

It confirmed the workers had been employed connected impermanent six-month contracts, but “a solution was swiftly reached betwixt the institution and its employees, whereby the workers were remunerated successful afloat for their services and their contracts were concluded successful accordance with their specified terms”.

It did not corroborate if immoderate of the workers had been deported, but said: “Qatar does not apprehension oregon deport workers for seeking to resoluteness their employment disputes. The rights of each individuals moving successful Qatar are upheld and protected done the just and conscionable exertion of ineligible owed process.”

Fifa directed the Guardian to an earlier connection it made connected the case, successful which it said it “seeks to facilitate discussions astatine big state level, to research disposable options for remedy”.

Stark Security Services did not respond to requests for comment. Qatar’s section World Cup organising committee declined to comment.

Additional reporting by Praveen Yadav.


Names person been changed to support individuals’ identities.

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