FIFA have blood on their hands, no amount of air-conditioned stadiums will change that

The Qatar World Cup has been steeped in controversy, not least because of workers’ rights
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

This time next week, it will all be over. After years of anticipation and controversy, of grubby justifications and patronising celebrity endorsements, the Qatar World Cup comes to an end on Sunday afternoon. The attentions of those involved, from officials to players to supporters, will no doubt shift swiftly; the Premier League returns on Boxing Day, and before then there is the hyper-capitalist hellscape of the festive season gauntlet to navigate in blithe terror. But for many, there will be no moving past this winter’s tournament.

According to some estimates, as many as 6,500 migrant workers died during the construction of the stadiums that have hosted the Qatari World Cup. To contextualise that figure a little further, a comparative 96 people died while building the Hoover Dam. Eight died building the Titanic. Just one died building the Eiffel Tower. The last time football was played against the backdrop of such a flagrant and unnecessary waste of human life was on the Western Front, Christmas Day, 1914.

And through it all, FIFA and their Qatari cronies have done their best impression of a gaudy stage illusionist in the car park of a Las Vegas casino hotel, desperately trying to conceal their great hulking elephant behind various mirrored contraptions and smoking pyrotechnics. ‘Wow’, they proclaim, ‘just look at all that football! Saudi Arabia beating Argentina... whatever next?! And what’s this, David Beckham enjoying a spice market? Well colour us amazed and ethically satisfied! Revel in our tourist-friendly transport infrastructure! Marvel at the architectural prowess of our air-conditioned stadiums! (Just don’t you dare ask who built them.) Now shut up and bask in the absolute normality of it all!’

Qatar’s stadiums are undoubtedly impressive. But to admire their grandeur without any interrogation of their moral bankruptcy would be a bit like labelling Hitler’s Bavarian Berghof residence a ‘pleasant hilltop retreat’ and then saying nothing more about it. Sometimes the context is unspeakable, but its in those instances that it needs to be spoken about most.

6,500 workers travelled to Qatar on the promise of employment and opportunity. They will never return home. For their families and loved ones, no amount of climate-controlled pitches or retractable roofs can ever begin to justify or relieve the immeasurable heft of the grief that they have been so cruelly left to shoulder. There are some vacuums that can never be satiated, some agonies that can never heal. And, ultimately, for what? A game - albeit one that has been hijacked by the gluttonous, the feckless, and the rotten.

Thousands have died so that the filthy rich can get filthier and richer, and so that a clique of privileged swindlers can massage their lumbering egos with a vanity project that continues to insolently stick a crooked middle finger up at the rest of the world as it stares on in dumbstruck horror.

As always, there will be no accountability, no justice, no lessons learnt. But make no mistake, FIFA and their Qatari bedfellows have blood on their hands.