In pictures: Migrant workers aim to stay in Qatar far beyond FIFA World Cup final

Many of the workers are dependent on their employers to be allowed to stay in Qatar and the goal is to ensure that they can stay in a job.

Many of the workers are dependent on their employers to be allowed to stay in Qatar and the goal is to ensure that they can stay in a job.

Migrant workers watch on a big projection screen the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Argentina and Australia in the Asian Town Cricket Stadium in Doha, Qatar.

Migrant workers watch on a big projection screen the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Argentina and Australia in the Asian Town Cricket Stadium in Doha, Qatar. | Photo Credit: AP

Senegal’s loss to England on Sunday saw Africa’s hopes of lifting the trophy in Qatar recede even further but the migrant workers watching the game at a specially-built fan zone were still hoping for the biggest prize of all -- work beyond the World Cup.

Senegal’s 3-0 defeat at the Al Bayt Stadium means Morocco are the continent’s only sporting representatives remaining in the tournament but in Asian Town, about 60km away, some African fans were already looking beyond the final.

Migrant workers celebrate Argentina’s Lionel Messi opening goal in the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Argentina and Australia.

Migrant workers celebrate Argentina’s Lionel Messi opening goal in the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Argentina and Australia. | Photo Credit: AP

“The ones who came just for the World Cup will definitely go back after the World Cup, but I still have my future here because I still have work to do,” Ugandan Wambaka Isaac told Reuters.

“We’ll go doing cleaning work, offices, everywhere (there’s) a lot of work, and of course the building keeps on going,” he added.

Proudly wearing the shirt of his national team, Isaac was one of thousands of migrant workers who made their way to the fan zone after sundown to watch Sunday’s last-16 tie between France and Poland before England and Senegal took centre stage.

Qatar has come in for intense criticism from human rights groups about the treatment of its migrant workers, who together with other foreigners make up a majority of the population.

The fan zone is, among other things, for those who cannot afford to enter the stadium or visit the fan zone near the corniche inside Doha.

The fan zone is, among other things, for those who cannot afford to enter the stadium or visit the fan zone near the corniche inside Doha. | Photo Credit: AFP

“It’s complicated,” said a young traffic marshal from Kenya, who declined to give his name, when asked whether or not he would be able to stay on after the final.

“I worked in construction on the Lusail Stadium, the Al Thumama (stadium). I worked for a contractor, so you go wherever they send you. We’re marshals today, next week we might be in construction again,” he explained.

“We worked in the summer when it was very hot, long days, very hot. I was very tired all the time.”

NO WORK AT HOME

For Rahim, a ride-share driver from Bangladesh, his three-and-a-half years in Qatar have been tough but there is no work in his home village so he feels he has no choice but to stay on.

“I work every day, seven days a week. First I have to pay a company for the car, it’s not mine. Then I have to pay for my food and my rent, and what is left I send to my family,” Rahim said.

Scores of workers have been gathering in a converted cricket stadium in the city’s desert outskirts to enjoy the tournament they helped create.

Scores of workers have been gathering in a converted cricket stadium in the city’s desert outskirts to enjoy the tournament they helped create. | Photo Credit: AP

“During the pandemic there was no work so we lived on nothing. I’m trying to save up to go home; I haven’t seen my family in three-and-a-half years (but) if I go home there is no work so I have to have even more money.”

Rahim said he would like to bring his wife and daughter to live with him in Qatar but that he did not make enough money to be able to do so, so they remained in Bangladesh.

The FIFA fan zone in Asian Town, close to where many of the migrant workers have their living quarters, is one of the few public places in Doha showing World Cup games on big outdoor screens.

Most evenings the men come out to sit on the grass or in the bleachers at the cricket stadium, where the fan zone has been built, to watch but with an early start in the morning many head home to bed before the final whistle.

Many workers prefer better lives to the ones they lead as migrant labour but hope to continue working to aid their financial circumstances.

Many workers prefer better lives to the ones they lead as migrant labour but hope to continue working to aid their financial circumstances. | Photo Credit: AP

Many of the workers are dependent on their employers to be allowed to stay in Qatar and the goal is to ensure that they can stay in a job.

Jonathan, another Ugandan, is not really a fan of his job as a mechanic and would prefer to get an education, but he is aiming to be here long after the final.

“I’m going to stay until my contract finishes,” he said. 

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