Qatar has been accused of being the scene of “slavery” during the country’s preparations for the 2022 World Cup after an investigation found dozens of migrant workers had died there in recent weeks.

A probe undertaken by the Guardian newspaper found Nepalese workers had lost their lives at a rate of almost one a day in the Gulf state, claiming many were young men who had suffered heart attacks.

It also found evidence suggesting thousands of Nepalese, who represent the largest group of labourers in Qatar, were the victims of serious abuses during what has been a wave of construction in the county, partly to create the infrastructure for it to host the World Cup .

Documents obtained from the Nepalese embassy in Doha were said to show at least 44 workers died in the two months between June and August, more than half of heart problems or workplace accidents.

The investigation also claimed to have unearthed evidence of forced labour on a huge World Cup infrastructure project, allegations workers’ passports had been confiscated to control them, and testimony some labourers had been denied access to free drinking water in up to 50-degree heat.

Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International, said: “These working conditions and the astonishing number of deaths of vulnerable workers go beyond forced labour to the slavery of old where human beings were treated as objects.

“There is no longer a risk that the World Cup might be built on forced labour. It is already happening.”

The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, w

Photo Credit: Construction cranes and bulldozers operate at a real estate construction site being built by Qatar's Lucille properties in Doha. Mohammad Dabbous / Reuters