Blood on the pitch


The decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar didn’t bother me in particular, for me, World Cups are a chance to watch great footballers playing for teams I don’t have a vested interest in.  That changed when reports of hundreds of deaths of foreign migrants, allowed in to build the infrastructure required to host the tournament.

The Indian embassy in Qatar report that the death rate of their nationals involved in construction projects in Qatar is reaching epidemic levels.  233 died in 2010, 239 in 2011, 237 in 2013 and 241 in 2013.  24 died in January this year, a total of 998 since the beginning of 2010.  This is a blight on humanity.

The Guardian revealed that 197 Nepalese died in 2012 and 185 died in 2013.  Many of the deaths are no characterised as classic construction accidents, the heat and environmental conditions, together with the lack of facilities for immigrants, mean many die of ‘natural’ causes, including heart failure, there are other nationals there too, also dying in alarming numbers.

Labour MP, Jim Murphy, last month said, “Some of the practices we know are taking place in Qatar amount to forced labour, and there are widespread concerns that the death toll could reach well into the thousands if nothing is done.”  The International Trade Union Confederation estimate (without needing to extrapolate greatly) up to 4,000 workers could die before the country is ready to host the tournament.

The prospect of a sea of blood on the pitch has not been enough to convince Fifa to call a halt to the slaughter, or at least use the threat of withdrawal to ensure migrants experience safe and humane living and working conditions.

As the tournament draws nearer, pressure groups will become better organised, but by that time, many more will have died.  As fans, or, in this instance, to adopt our more effective role as consumers of TV and companies who sponsor the tournament, we have a lot of work to do, and we need to start now.

Before Fifa act they will need a lot of encouragement from sponsors, unhappy at the prospect of their brands being associated with a death trade, and they will need approval from the lawyers.  Qatar ‘invested’ hugely in football as they were busy vacuuming up votes, including buying real estate on the front of Barcelona’s shirts, once regarded as an ethically responsible club.  The platform association with UNICEF looks like blatant opportunism.

Today’s Telegraph offers Fifa a chance to call a halt to the project.  They allege former Fifa vice president, Jack Warner and his family, were paid $2m just weeks after Qatar were awarded the tournament.  The Qatar authorities deny wrongdoing.

This is perhaps the most important article concerning the football industry in decades as it opens a door to stop the despair of thousands of workers living in abject poverty and mortal danger.  According to the Telegraph, law enforcement agencies are already active on this issue.  They need to quickly establish if the Qatar bid was assisted by criminal activity before the tournament can be withdrawn.  The danger is that irrespective of what law enforcement agencies uncover, or who ultimately goes to jail, there is so much illicit cash floating around Fifa that those in positions of power will protect their paymasters.

Before this happens, you, me, our clubs, and whoever cares from the various football associations, must organise and turn up the pressure on the criminals with their snouts in the Fifa trough.  If we pass up on this opportunity, we could wait decades for the next chance to rid the top of our game of criminals.

Seville – The Celtic Movement is available now:

“Of course we’d loved Blackburn, Stuttgart, Liverpool etc, but with twenty minutes to go in Oporto, I sat with my stomach recreating a range of football related sinking feelings from the past. You know, being told I was ‘rubbish’ by the high school team prima donna as another of his cannonball passes rocketed out for a shy under my foot, or the time I ran home from primary school to watch Celtic lose to…. someone…on a black and white television during the seventies. I’ve never wanted to find out who we lost to or what year it was. The memory is more intriguing left blurry like footage of the moon landings.”

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  1. jamesgang. 16:36



    The initial letters of the countries in our 78 WC Group were a dead giveaway for what was in store for us – Peru. Iran. Scotland. Holland !!




  2. Margaret McGill on

    So …errrrrrrr… The Qatar murdering bastards topic to reap oil bonuses on our illustrious masters of the beautiful game has been approved for discussion? Just askin ken?

  3. We`ll hammer Pewoo and Iwan have no chance. I`ve just told Danny McGwain he`ll be the first to hold the twophy when we get back.



  4. hendrix67 should have been at CQN10 plenty plastered there!!! I,ll get my coat,sorry can,t help. Hail Hail Hebcelt

  5. itscalledthemalvinas on

    What’s the betting that John McKays got a blue tie on again when he’s doing the STV news ?





  6. Geordie Munro on




    Ha! I remember first listening to that on an only excuse audio tape whilst on a school trip yeeeeears ago. Very clever :)

  7. margaret mcgill



    17:05 on 18 March, 2014




    I’m a plasterer


    What is it that you need plastered?




    1 bedroom initially then another room eventually.

  8. Margaret McGill on




    I’ll do the initially


    For the eventually you’re on your own

  9. I was fortunate enough to be living in Spain (funnily enough in Cadiz) at the time of the 1978 WC. Spain only had two TV channels at the time unless you lived in Southern Andalucia where there was only one. TVE 1 (or 2) didn’t show the Peru or Iran games (though you would have thought they would have shown all of the games by the tournament favourites).



    They did show the Netherlands game (my Dutch friends and colleagues do not appreciate my using the term Holland) but that was only on TVE 2 and I would have had to go to Seville to have watched that. Luckily, I was a Scot without the bus fare at the time and so avoided the usual Scottish situation of being killed by the hope. I



    Maybe being away from it all gave me a more sober (not in the literal sense of the word) perspective but I was astonished by the optimism coming out of Scotland. I mean…Rioch and Masson… Willie Johnston?????

  10. Hendrix67



    I know a great guy and/but he’s in dunblane. Any good to you?



    HH jamesgang

  11. It’s not me by the way! I need the weans to spread the butter on the toast for me!






    HH jamesgang

  12. Margaret McGill on

    Best thing that happened to the 1978 World Cup was the dawn of the Exocet and Goose Green

  13. itscalledthemalvinas



    17:01 on 18 March, 2014


    What’s the betting that John McKays got a blue tie on again when he’s doing the STV news ?







    He does wear another colour, every time I run past him in erskine , he’s got a holland top on,




  14. Margaret McGill on

    The whole 1978 World Cup was a sham ending in willy van der kerkoffs arm plaster and another coached referee. In fact I’m convinced that’s when FIFA coached referees began

  15. rioskorrie



    16:48 on 18 March, 2014



    At the start of the tournie I was such a sweet, naive kid that I didn’t even know that word……. I prob did by the end mind!



    HH jamesgang

  16. Judged watched the st Mirren Dundee Utd game highlights. Cifti scores late winner and entire team are off the pitch celebrating.



    Good old Craig Thompson issued no cards.



    Just how long are Celtic going to allow our guys to be booked for similar and continue to say nothing. Bloody disgraceful.

  17. Steinreignedsupreme on

    Dear Mr Easdale,



    I am a big fan of The Rangers and I think you are great. I always travel to Ibrox on a McGill’s bus – easily the best transport in the west of Scotland.



    Please send me a photo with your autograph, then I can tell everyone how great you really are.



    Chris Graham

  18. Rioskorrie




    The initial letters of the countries in our 78 WC Group were a dead giveaway for what Ally McLeod was actually practicing (way before his time that man) Scotland, Peru. Iran, Netherlands!!

  19. Hendrix67 – you prob should’ve!






    Apropos nothing, when you’re a clippie on the train and you can only go sideways up the aisle it’s mibbee time for a Slimfast Moment.






    HH jamesgang

  20. BobbyRussell



    17:12 on 18 March, 2014



    “Cubillas looked a lot like Johnny Nash. NotalotofpeopleknewthateitherCSC”



    and because of him I ended up with tears on my pillow.

  21. jinkyredstar cuts it back for Neil Lennon on



    The best thing about the 78 World Cup was the night we qualified in 77 against the Czechs- the Melrise Bar in Greenock was never the same again!

  22. steinreignedsupreme



    17:19 on 18 March, 2014



    Me thinks that’s a fake big guy…. He always signs off as Kwissy Gwaham ;-)))



    HH jamesgang

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