[This story has been updated with a statement from the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy included at the bottom of the article]
by Doha News staff
A source close to FIFA has told Doha News that one person who was working on the preparations for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has recently died due to complications from COVID-19.
A ‘white collar’ employee, who was an office based engineer and worked on one of the tournament’s stadia lost his fight against the deadly virus a few days ago. We do not have all of the deceased mans details but our source has told us he was over 50 years old.
There is no evidence yet to suggest that he contracted the virus at work, and our understanding is that he was employed by a third party firm; however he is the first coronavirus related death amongst linked to the World Cup.
Our source, told us that from the 40,000 people working on the 2022 World Cup, some 1100 have contracted the virus, almost all of those have recovered but there are still 121 active cases.
Doha News reached out to the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) for comment, but the World Cup organisers failed to respond to our questions at the time of publication.
A Doha News contact at Qatar’s ministry of Labour told us that the SC has been implementing numerous measures to ensure the safety of all its staff since the coronavirus pandemic hit Qatar.
“There is a 20% cap on employees working in offices, buses that transport workers are not allowed to exceed 50% capacity and worker accommodations have been adjusted to ensure social distancing is in place.”
In a statement, given to the AFP news agency back in April when the first cases of COVID-19 were reported, the Supreme Committee said it was “following health ministry guidance to respond to the cases and all those affected would continue to be paid and receive free healthcare.”
Doha News understands that the tournament organisers have followed a similar testing approach adopted across Qatar where ministries and large corporations have been proactively testing people rather than waiting for employees or staff to report symptoms.
This first death will once again put the spotlight on FIFA and the 2022 World Cup organisers, but government sources we’ve spoken to insist there is no correlation between the unfortunate incident and place of work.
A few weeks ago, Building and Wood Workers International, a union that represents construction workers, issued a statement saying that mechanisms had been put in place to ensure that the safety of World Cup employees was being safeguarded during these times and they insisted that the SC was cooperating with them.
However there have been questions raised as to why the World Cup organisers chose not to pause work on stadia during the peak of the pandemic considering that all reports say that Qatar is ahead of schedule when it comes their delivery.
Twelve hours after Doha News published this story, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy issued a statement to the AFP news agency. In it they said:
“Sadly, on June 11, 2020, a 51-year-old specialist engineer employed by the contractor Conspel, tragically died after contracting COVID-19”
“He had worked on Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy projects since October 2019 and had no underlying health issues. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”