Workers at ‘extreme risk’ in World Cup host Qatar
World Cup host Qatar has been downgraded to "extreme risk" for working conditions, following multiple deaths at its sporting construction sites.
The Gulf state will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and was one of 11 countries demoted to the worst category for working conditions in a report published by global risk consultancy Maplecroft on Wednesday.
Qatar's multi-billion dollar construction program for the World Cup has inflated its already large migrant-worker population, who primarily come from South Asian countries, and has shed light on concerns about workers' treatment.
185 Nepalese migrants were reported to have died on Qatari World Cup construction sites in 2013 alone, in working conditions that critics likened to slavery.
"Allegations of forced labor in Qatar have increased, as scrutiny from the media and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) has intensified," said Maplecroft in its report.
(Read more: Qatar World Cup workers 'treated like cattle')
The consultancy noted that high profile companies associated with the Qatar were likely to face elevated reputational risks due to the concerns about working conditions. International firms involved with Qatar's World Cup preparations include U.S. engineering company CH2M HILL, which is managing the development program.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has estimated that 4,000 more workers could die in Qatar before the World Cup starts, unless the government introduces reforms.
Allegations about workers' treatment in Qatar include forced labor, confiscation of passports, harmful working and housing conditions and lack of right to form trade unions.
Maplecroft said that the rise in the overall number of countries rated "extreme risk" indicated that working conditions around the world were deteriorating.
"This signifies a worsening global landscape for workers, especially migrants, relating to wider labor related issues, including trafficking and forced and bonded labor," it said.
In November, FIFA President Joseph Blatter and the president of the ITUC, Michael Sommer, met and agreed that fair working conditions must be introduced promptly in Qatar.
"Economic and political leaders must contribute to improving the unacceptable situation in Qatar," said Blatter after the meeting.
"I am convinced that Qatar is taking the situation very seriously," he added.
Qatar's 2022 Supreme Committee, which is charged with preparations for the World Cup, was not immediately available to comment on the report from Maplecroft.
Other countries the consultancy downgraded to extreme risk included Nigeria, Africa's second-biggest economy, plus Egypt and Kenya.
Brazil, the host of the 2014 World Cup, is also rated extreme risk by Maplecroft, alongside Russia, the host of the 2014 Sochi winter Olympic Games.
(Read more: World Cup in Brazil will be 'best ever': Ronaldo)