A German artist has lit a stadium with 20,000 candles to remember migrant workers who have died in Qatar. FIFA and the Qatari government are accused of putting profit before human rights with the current World Cup.
Masses of grave candles illuminated a football stadium in the western German city of Herne on Sunday night as the controversial FIFA World Cup got underway in Qatar.
The action by the workers’ welfare agency AWO and the artist Volker-Johannes Trieb commemorated the more than 15,000 migrant workers who have died in Qatar in the past decade, according to Qatari government statistics.
Altogether 6,500 footballs filled with sand were also placed on the playing field in the stadium in Herne, reflecting another estimate of migrant deaths based on figures provided by non-Qatari governments.
The action bore the title “World conscience, you are a blight.”
Qatar has denied many of the accusations leveled at it ahead of the sports event.
Although the statistics include all migrant worker deaths in Qatar over the past 10 years or so, the artist, Volker-Johannes Trieb, placed the blame squarely on the World Cup preparations.
“The soccer world championship has cost the lives of many thousands of people. They were treated like slaves and died of heat, exhaustion or because of deficient safety precautions,” he said in a statement.
“FIFI and Qatar’s government have gone over dead bodies, and that mustn’t be ignored amid World Cup celebrations,” he added.
The chairman of the local AWO branch, Michael Scheffler, said that his organization considered human rights to be nonnegotiable.
“The life of migrant workers is more important than any profit. With our action, we want to appeal to the conscience of the football world and remind it of the atrocities that have occurred in the run-up to the world championship,” he said.
“Sports events must never again be handed to hosts that violate fundamental rights,” he added.
AWO and Trieb already caused a stir in April with a protest in front of FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, against the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar.
Edited by: Rebecca Staudenmaier

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