32 creatives respond to the inhumane treatment of migrant workers ahead of World Cup

As human rights abuses against migrant workers and LGBTQIA+ people are reported in Qatar, designers and artists contribute work to raise funds for human rights and labour charity Equidem.

18 November 2022


When the World Cup starts on 20 November, the exact number of migrant workers to have died due to negligence on World Cup projects will still be unconfirmed – though The Guardian reports 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar between 2010 and 2021. Despite World Cup organisers claiming gay and gender nonconforming fans in attendance will be ‘safe’ (a widely scrutinised claim), LGBTQIA+ people in Qatar and local supporters will continue to suffer ongoing abuse. In October, Human Rights Watch revealed how Qatar’s preventive security department forces have arrested LGBTQIA+ people and subjected them to extracted force confessions, physical and verbal abuse, and mandated conversion therapy. This week, The Guardian also reported how detained gay people in Qatar have been promised safety from physical torture in return for their assistance tracking down other LGBTQIA+ citizens.

In collaboration with digital partners Kaleido Grafik, independent brand and design studio Ico Design has announced a creative response to the World Cup in Qatar, which aims to support Equidem – a charity working to expose the abuses migrant workers face on World Cup projects in Qatar and support them directly. The campaign, called Humanity FC, brings together 32 international creatives – including designers, illustrators, studios and architects – and asks them to contribute an illustration. Each artwork forms one of the football’s 32 hexagonal or pentagonal panels.


Ico Design: Humanity FC (Copyright © Ico Design, 2022)

The final football will serve as a “one-of-a-kind piece of art”, an Ico release explains, that will be raffled to raise funds; 100 per cent of the proceeds will go directly to Equidem. The illustrations were created around the theme “solidarity” – “intended to be a positive response to the negativity surrounding the event,” Ico adds. The winner will be picked at random and announced on 9 January 2023 to maximise contributions. Tickets are available on the campaign site.

Equidem CEO Mustafa Qadri Equidem states: “We are humbled and honoured to be Ico’s official charity Partner, it’s a compelling initiative and very timely, given we have just released our investigative report about the abuses migrants have faced in building seven new stadiums in Qatar. This support will help our team to track down the estimated thousands of World Cup workers and families owed compensation for deaths, unpaid wages and other harms in Qatar and push for FIFA to pay up.”

Vivek Bhatia, creative director at Ico Design, says: “As a studio of football fans, the World Cup is the pinnacle, an incredibly exciting event, but this time around it feels seriously tainted. We wanted to do something that would make a statement that, when it comes to corruption and exploitation in football, the game is up”.

Here, you can read a report from Equidom on the treatment of migrant workers employed as construction workers and security guards at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 stadium, including efforts made by employers to cover up investigations into forced labour, wage theft and worker death.

GalleryIco Design: Humanity FC (Copyright © Ico Design, 2022)

Hero Header

Ico Design: Humanity FC (Copyright © Ico Design, 2022)

Share Article

About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.