Members of the Swiss UNIA workers union display red cards and shout slogans during a protest
Members of the Swiss UNIA workers union display red cards and shout slogans during a protestReuters File

The arrest of 9 FIFA officials on bribery charges in connection with the World Cup bids has turned the spotlight once again on the plight of migrant workers engaged in construction of the soccer stadia in Qatar, which will be hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

Social media users came down heavily on Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) over the death of migrant workers in Qatar, after the US Justice Department revealed that it will open criminal proceedings against those who took money for awarding rights to host the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

In an early-morning operation, the Swiss authorities arrested several top FIFA officials and extradited them to the United States on federal corruption charges on Wednesday.

The Washington Post report noted that the Justice Department has charged top soccer figures, including officials of FIFA, with 47 counts of racketeering, bribery, money laundering and fraud.

The news of the FIFA arrests, which interestingly has come just days before the FIFA presidential election, saw social media users criticising the international football body. 

Suresh ‏@sureshactor tweeted, "15 lakh Indian workers enslaved. Boycott #qatar #Fifa A/c pitch for players;Coffins for workers??"

Another user Paul Kelly ‏@PaulK1966 tweeted: "Lets hope the 1000s of workers dying for the world cup in #Qatar2022 get justice You have blood on your hands Fifa #BlatterOut #FIFAarrests"

Social media users were especially critical of a statement by FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio, who told reporters at a news conference following the arrests, that "FIFA is the damaged party."

Reacting to the statement by the FIFA spokesperson, a Twitter user Nick ‏@NickinSE7 noted sarcastically: "Not football,Not integrity,Not migrant workers killed in Qatar. No, FIFA is 'the damaged party' according to spokesman de Gregorio."

Another user Séan KØ ‏@skokelly28 said "And FIFA are supposedly the victims?What about all the workers in Qatar that are dying day in day out #FIFA."

According to a report by the International Trade Union Confederation, by 18 November, 2022, when the World Cup in Qatar kicks-off, an estimated 4,000 migrant workers would have died building the state-of-the-art infrastructure in the desert.

It is estimated that since 2010, more than 1,400 workers, mostly from India and Nepal, have died building the World Cup facilities, CSMonitor reported.

Even more startling is the claim by that for every match played in the World Cup, there will be an attached human cost of about 62 workers.

More Twitter Reactions

#NASSRadio ‏@wobblyneil 

Let's not forget @FIFA is cool with Qatar not letting Nepalese workers go home after the earthquake because stadiums

Danny Kelly ‏@dannykellywords 

FIFA say they are "suffering" and are "the victims". Silly me - I thought that was the slave workers in Qatar.

James Masters ‏@Masters_JamesD

If the votes are found to be fraudulent then I'd hope that compensation will be paid to families of migrant workers who died in Qatar #FIFA

Jon Snow ‏@jonsnowC4 

FIFA officials arrested for corruption! And the 100's of dead stadium workers in Qatar? Murder on the charge sheet?

Bruce Arthur ‏@bruce_arthur

So do the FIFA arrests mean Russia can't use prison labour for stadiums and Qatar has to let Nepalese workers go home for funerals or what

Per-Olof Sjöö ‏@peosjoo 

"FIFA is suffering under the circumstances." Talk to migrant workers in Qatar. They know about that feeling. #FIFA