Qatar World Cup Deaths: Washington Post Admits its Story was Wrong - iMediaEthics

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The Doha, Qatar skyline. (Credit: Wikipedia)

How many people have died in Qatar due to construction in preparation for the 2022 World Cup?

Turns out the Washington Post doesn’t know, despite publishing a May 27 article and graphic on the subject. The Post essentially retracted its report with a lengthy correction admitting it doesn’t know the answer to its own headline, “The human toll of FIFA’s corruption,” which has now been changed to “The toll of human casualties in Qatar.

“In effect, WashPo appears to have withdrawn the story,” the Guardian’s Roy Greenslade argued.

The Post‘s article and graphic “created the impression that more than 1,000 migrant workers in Qatar had died working on 2022 World  Cup infrastructure,” the correction stated. But, that number only reflects the number of deaths by immigrants from India, Nepal and Bangladesh in 2012 and 2013, according to Qatar’s government, which claims no one has died because of the World Cup construction.” [On the other hand, the Guardian reported last year that Nepalese workers for the World Cup construction “have died at a rate of one every two days in 2014.”]

“Ultimately, we are unable to verify how many deaths, if any, are related to World Cup construction,” the correction confesses.

This was the original graphic, via albawaba:

World Cup, 2022 World Cup, Qatar, Qatar migrant deaths, washington post

The Washington Post’s original graphic claiming the number of deaths in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup construction.


Days after the Post‘s original article, Qatar slammed the report.  In a statement, Qatar News Agency said Qatar’s Government Communications Office complained to the Washington Post.

The Post‘s article “claimed that 4,000 workers are likely to die while working on World Cup sites, and that some 1,200 had already lost their lives,” the statement reported. “This is completely untrue. In fact, after almost five million work-hours on World Cup construction sites, not a single worker’s life has been lost. Not one.”

“In preparing its report, it appears that the Post simply took the total annual mortality figures for Indian and Nepalese migrants working in Qatar and multiplied those numbers by the years remaining between now and the 2022 World Cup – a calculation which assumes that the death of every migrant worker in Qatar is work related,” according to the Qatar News Agency report, which pointed out that “it is wrong to distort  statistics to suggest, as the Post‘s article did, that all deaths in such a large population are the result of workplace conditions.”

The Qatar News Agency report explained the impact of the error. “Enormous damage has been done to Qatar’s image and reputation by the online publication of the Post‘s article,” the government stated. “n fact, ‘The Human Toll of FIFA’s Corruption,’ with its fabricated numbers and its inflammatory and inaccurate graphic, has now gone viral, with almost five million views on Facebook and YouTube as of 1 June.

“In our view, the misinformation in the article has damaged more than the image of Qatar; we believe it has also damaged the Post’s reputation for fair and accurate reporting. With that in mind, we have requested an immediate retraction of the article by the Washington Post and a correction of the misinformation it contains,” the statement went on.

The Washington Post declined to comment about this.

Hat Tip: Roy Greenslade


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Qatar World Cup Deaths: Washington Post Admits its Story was Wrong

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