Unpaid Salary Protest: 3 World Cup Security Guards Still Detained in Qatar
|"Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar, December 3, 2022. A photo of football legend Pele is seen at the Torch Hotel building next to the stadium. (REUTERS/HAMAD I MOHAMMED via VOA INDONESIA)"|
Qatar, a host of the upcoming World Cup, continues to detain three security guards who were arrested four months ago while trying to resolve their unpaid salary dispute. Shakir Ullah and Zafar Iqbal from Pakistan, along with an Indian national, are believed to have been sentenced to six months in prison and fined 10,000 riyals each (£2,220). This shocking revelation, initially reported by the human rights group Equidem and verified by The Guardian, adds to the growing concerns surrounding the World Cup, which FIFA promised would leave a better legacy for workers' rights.
Qatar has yet to comment on the case. These three men are among the hundreds of security guards employed by Stark Security Services, a local private security company, deployed at key locations throughout the World Cup. However, they were dismissed within days of the final, despite having contracts that were supposed to last for several more months. Ullah, known as "chacha" (uncle in Urdu) by his colleagues, is described as calm and reserved. "But when it comes to his rights, he won't let you deceive him," said one of his peers. Calling for the immediate release of these three individuals, Equidem director Mustafa Qadri stated that they have been convicted simply for demanding their owed wages, along with hundreds of their fellow workers, after their contracts were terminated prematurely. "This is the true consequence of FIFA's careless disregard for the rights of those who help them generate enormous profits," said Qadri.
Many other former Stark Security employees have also faced their own traumatic ordeals after questioning the early termination of their contracts. While Lionel Messi lifted the World Cup trophy in Qatar, hailed by FIFA president Gianni Infantino as the best World Cup ever, Jacob and Patrick from Kenya were informed that they were being fired. They spent most of the tournament working as security guards at Stadium 974, which hosted matches involving Argentina, Brazil, France, Portugal, and star players like Messi, Mbappe, and Ronaldo.
They were taken aback by the message, as their contracts still had three months remaining. They were then instructed to collect their last pay for the days they worked in December and leave their accommodations. Just a few days after the final, they suddenly found themselves unemployed and homeless.
"When they need you, they treat you well, but now that they're done with you, you mean nothing to them," said Jacob. In the months leading up to the World Cup, Stark Security deployed hundreds of security guards to major tournament locations.
Nine security guards working for the company, including Jacob and Patrick, were all dismissed early.
Four of them were reportedly deported, while the other five were fired around the same time or shortly thereafter but not deported.