A security guard died after a fall at the venue of the World Cup final: why aren’t there more answers?
His name was John Njau Kibue.
He was a 24-year-old Kenyan who worked as a security guard at the Lusail Stadium, site of the 2022 World Cup final.
He fell from a considerable height in the stadium, and some reports suggest it was from the eighth floor, after Argentina had beaten the Netherlands penalties in the quarterfinals on Friday, December 9.
He was treated for injuries to his head, face and pelvis at Doha’s Hamad Medical Hospital and spent three days in intensive care before dying on Tuesday, December 13.
His family was informed and later, after receiving questions from the athletic and other media outlets later Tuesday, QatarThe Supreme Committee for Surrender and Legacy issued a statement confirming Kibue’s death.
“The Qatar tournament organizers are investigating the circumstances leading to the crash as a matter of urgency and will provide further information pending the outcome of the investigation,” it said.
On Saturday, the Supreme Committee’s initial statement after it learned that he had been taken to hospital had had a similar tone. “The host country is investigating the circumstances as a matter of urgency,” he said.
However, more than a week later, with Argentina and France preparing to play the final in the same stadium, there are still more questions than answers about how a second migrant worker died during this tournament.
Kibue’s death came a week after a man, a Filipino known as Alex, who was believed to be in his forties, surfaced. he had died in the training facility used by the Saudi Arabian team during the group stage.
Qatar World Cup CEO Nasser Al Khater responded to a question about his death by telling reporters that “Death is a natural part of life”, in addition to saying that journalists should not “hit” on the subject.
“We are in the middle of a World cup and we are having success World cup And is this something you want to talk about right now? he told him on December 8.
There may well have been other workers who have died in the last month, at the World Cup sites or in the city in general, and we may never know who they were or how they died.
Human Rights Watch has said that the correct number of World Cup-related migrant worker deaths will never be known because “Qatar authorities have failed to investigate the causes of thousands of migrant worker deaths, many of which are attributed to ‘natural causes’. ”
Others have also died during the tournament. Three journalists, Khalid al-Misslam, Roger Pearce and grant wahl — passed away during the tournament and there are condolence books in the media areas for colleagues to pay their respects. A 62-year-old Welsh fan, Kevin Davies, was also killed in Qatar.
fifa President Gianni Infantino may think that “the fans just want to spend the 90 minutes without having to think about anything else, forget their problems and enjoy football”, but not everyone is so lucky.
An image has emerged of a young man who moved to Doha in November 2021 to provide support for his family in Kenya.
Kibue’s mother, Grace Nyambura, told CNN: “He used to tell me, mom, you helped me while I was out of work, I want to help you as much as I can, I know you pray for me.”
“We are very heartbroken,” Kibue’s sister, Anne Wanjiru, told The Standard of Kenya earlier this week. “We want answers about the circumstances of his death. We don’t know where to start. It’s very painful, they should help us.
“We heard that he had worked long hours. The clarity of how she fell is not coming out… We want justice ”.
The use of ‘they’ appears to refer to the Supreme Committee, Al Sraiya Security Services, Kibue’s employers, and the Kenyan Embassy in Doha, which is aware of the incident and is assisting the authorities.
The Supreme Committee and the Al Sraiya Security Services did not respond to a question from the athletic for an update on the “investigation” of the circumstances that led to Kibue’s downfall.
The Supreme Committee’s statement on Saturday said Kibue “will continue to receive his full salary while receiving medical care” and on Tuesday added: “We will also ensure that his family receives all outstanding installments and money owed.”
“For us as a family, we definitely want some answers,” Samuel Njau, Kibue’s uncle, told Reuters. “It has been so unfortunate and devastating for us as a family.”
The Lusail Stadium is a beautiful and dainty 89,000-seat area that is particularly impressive when lit up at night in the style of a traditional Arabian lantern, a fanar.
It’s in a new suburb north of Doha, in an industrial context with a boulevard of restaurants and a space for families to stroll at dusk. Outside of a match day, however, it can hardly be described as bustling with activity.
As it prepared to host the World Cup final this week, security guards were working outside the perimeter of the stadium.
A worker said he knew Kibue but could not speak about him. Another the next day said the same thing. A third said he knew him too, but was told not to talk.
Some work for the same company as Kibue. Others spoke about separate incidents at Lusail that have left workers in need of medical treatment. They don’t know more about what happened to Kibue, or when his funeral might take place. They were all understandably nervous to speak.
They also have a job to do on Sunday in a stadium where a teammate has died in still unexplained circumstances.
Has the safety guide been reviewed? Has a new or updated guide been issued to workers? Has any support been offered?
The Supreme Committee and the Al Sraiya Security Services did not respond to questions from The Athletic.
The “industrial fan zone” was very crowded on Wednesday, December 14, when France faced Morocco in the second semifinal. This is a World Cup viewing area close to where many workers stay in dormitories of between four and 12 men at a time.
This part of Doha is called Asian Town. It’s not easily connected by the metro that has brought fans to and from the stadiums and the city center during this World Cup, but it is where many workers have consumed matches. They do not have the mandatory permission of the “Hayya Card” to access other fan areas.
The men enjoyed watching the progress of Morocco and it felt impolite to intrude.
On the first Saturday of the tournament, November 26, in the area of industrial fans, however, the athletic he had found the Kenyan workers most willing to share their experiences. Many of them had arrived more recently than their counterparts from Bangladesh or Nepal and seemed more prepared to challenge working conditions and pay.
His criticism was reserved most forcefully for Kenyan companies that had exploited workers with the deceptive promise of high wages in exchange for recruitment fees to travel to Qatar. They backed up their complaints with documents that proved their point.
After Kibue’s death, several of these workers approached the athletic detailing the security company that had hired him and also asking questions about the circumstances of his death.
One, who wished not to be named to protect his work, said: “It’s really sad to see such a sudden death of a young man trying to make it in life. It really seems very strange to me. I really hope that the authorities present clear information.”
Asked if workers have faith in a transparent process, he added: “Not really. But I really feel that Kenyans here and at home will want answers.”
Additional Contributor: Adam Leventhal
(Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
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