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Qatar World Cup has a strong Bangladesh connection: stadium construction, t-shirts

By Mashrur Siddique Bhuiyan* 

The FIFA World Cup fever has unquestionably cut through the minds of mass people all over the world. Stadiums in Qatar are buzzing with football fans and athletes representing their countries at the “Greatest Show on Earth". The magic of the FIFA World Cup is so enormous that even being unable to participate does not matter much to the fans who support different nations. This is one of the highest viewed events in the world, with the 2018 event viewed by about 3.6 billion people worldwide. But this crowd is not aware of the contribution of migrant workers who helped build the very stadiums where the matches are playing in.
Qatar won the bid in 2010 to host the FIFA World Cup 2022, which got the oxymoron of celebration and controversy. This also created the potential for Qatar to Showcase its monumental economic achievements and unique culture on the global stage. The motto for Qatar’s bid team in 2010 was ‘Expect Amazing’ and migrant workers across the globe made it possible. Hosting this tournament has undoubtedly put Qatar under the global spotlight, overshadowing others’ contributions in some areas.
Bangladesh never qualified for the final stage of the World Cup qualification let alone play in one. No one can dare to say that there is a mere chance in the near future for Bangladesh to play in the World Cup finals. But the Qatar World Cup has a strong connection to Bangladesh- regarding the stadium’s construction, the t-shirts worn by officials, organizing the referees, and the field’s medical system.
After Qatar got selected as the host nation, the nation’s demand for labor skyrocketed in 2010. The country has experienced a large influx of Bangladeshi migrant workers, particularly in the construction sector. It is estimated that 4 lakh Bangladeshi workers joined the Qatari workforce between 2010 and 2022. Qatar has hired 12,344 workers from Bangladesh this year alone, compared to 11,158 amount last year. The fruits of their labor include hotels, Doha Metro, airports, and a brand-new city called Lusail. The labor minister of Qatar praised Bangladeshi workers and noted that Qatar’s market would be always open to Bangladesh.
In addition to the employees engaged in building the infrastructure to carry out this massive undertaking, many Bangladeshis have contributed to the beautification of the entire area. But working in Qatar is difficult due to the heat and it is difficult to breathe there. The Greatest Show on Earth couldn't have happened without the sacrifice of more than a thousand Bangladeshis. Many people did not receive fair pay or enough time off. Over 6,000 migrant workers perished following the commencement of the World Cup project, according to a Guardian investigation. There are 1,108 Bangladeshis among them.
Besides, the name Bangladesh is involved in Qatar World Cup in many ways. Bangladesh's textile sector directly contributes to this exciting occasion. The fact that Chittagong, Bangladesh produced 600,000 official t-shirts for the World Cup in Qatar is a source of pride. FIFA officials, referees, ball boys, and several spectators in the gallery will wear jerseys made in Bangladesh while working at a total of eight sites in five cities. These apparel items are produced in our nation and are visible to football enthusiasts everywhere. For various age groups, five different varieties of t-shirts are being produced. These unique clothes were made by the workers with the utmost compassion to preserve the country's good name.
Bangladeshis will also help to maintain the players' health during this major football competition. Ayesha Parveen, a female doctor from Bangladesh, will be the primary medical professional on the field for the World Cup match at 974 Stadium, one of the World Cup venues in Qatar. This doctor has prior experience serving as a doctor at the same location at the FIFA Arab Cup in 2021.
Bangladesh's name is also closely related to the World Cup's match referees. A son of Bangladesh, Mohammad Shawkat Ali will serve as the match's referee coordinator for the Greatest Show on Earth. He will oversee the work of 24 video match officials, 69 assistant referees, and 36 referees.
Volunteers at the World Cup in Qatar are called ‘The heart of the tournament. Where more than four hundred Bangladeshi volunteers are ready to represent Bangladesh as FIFA official volunteers. Even if there is no Bangladesh team, the people of the country are on the stage of the World Cup. They are performing the duties of volunteers in the FIFA World Cup to be held in the Middle East country of Qatar.
Currently, it is anticipated that over 1.5 million tourists from various nations will travel to Qatar. Driving will be at the forefront of Qatar's welcome football fans among the many service employees. Around 8,000 of them in this region work for taxi services and ride-hailing apps and are Bangladeshis. They received specialized instruction in culture, etiquette, and language.
The World Cup celebration in the middle of the desert is equated with the sweat and blood of foreign employees. To ensure the success of the tournament, thousands of professionals have relocated to Qatar in preparation for the World Cup. The Qatari government has already built a ‘flag plaza’ with 119 country flags due to its contribution to the development of infrastructure in Qatar and the construction of eight stadiums built for the World Cup. Qatar has rewarded the dignity of expatriate workers to honor their worth of them.
The universal enchantment of football, FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar began on November 20. Karim, a migrant worker from Bangladesh, had dreamed of watching World Cup matches from the rooftop of the hotel he had helped build. But after completing work, he had to return home. He says “our dreams never came true, but we were part of this World Cup”. And this contribution makes him proud, indeed all of us proud.
---
*Development worker and independent researcher, Dhaka, Bangladesh

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