The Qatari official responsible for organising this year's World Cup has admitted during a television interview that "400-500" migrants died while working on tournament-related infrastructure projects over the last decade.
"The estimate is around 400," Hassan Al-Thawadi, the Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, said during an interview on Piers Morgan's programme Uncensored. "Between 400 and 500. I don't have the exact number, that is something that is being discussed."
He added: "One death is a death too many, plain and simple. And I think every year the health and safety standards on the sites are improving, at least on our sites, the World Cup sites, the ones we are responsible for. Most definitely to the extent that you have trade unions... [which] have commended the work that has been done on World Cup sites."
- World Cup: What about labour rights in Qatar?
- European Parliament calls on FIFA to compensate families of dead migrant workers in Qatar
Al-Thawadi's admission is likely to significantly amplify the fierce criticism that has assailed the Gulf peninsula in recent months concerning its often brutal treatment of migrant workers, many of whom hail from South Asian countries such as Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
Previously, Qatar had claimed that only three migrants had died during the construction of $200 billion worth of World Cup-related infrastructure projects over the last decade, while 37 migrants had died for non-work-related reasons.
In a much-cited special investigation published last year, The Guardian reported that up to 6,500 migrants had died in Qatar since 2011, the year after Qatar was officially announced as host of the 2022 World Cup.