Stating that Qatar 2022 will be “an amazing World Cup,” FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter emphasized that “out of respect for the Olympic Games,” the 2022 World Cup will not be hosted in January or February, at the same time recognizing the efforts Qatar is undertaking in relation to workers’ rights.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Managing Director of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, stressed that governmental and non-governmental organizations in Qatar are working hard to improve standards for workers and residents in the country.
Addressing a press conference at the Doha Four Seasons, Blatter LAO denied reports about the possibility of the event being shared by neighboring countries. “I have been asked if Iran or the UAE could share some matches, but FIFA is very clear on its stand that only one nation should host the World Cup.”
The press conference was held after a meeting with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani over lunch at Al Bahr Palace. Having discussed cooperation and relations between Qatar and FIFA and ways to enhance them in addition to the latest developments related to the organization of the 2022 World Cup and preparations and plans for it at various levels sporting show, Blatter said in a a FIFA press release: “I was very happy to be here today to meet the highest political authorities to fulfill my mission, which has three points. The first is to reiterate the decision taken by the Executive Committee in October that there is not one single doubt that the World Cup 2022 will be organized in Qatar, with all matches to be played in Qatar. The decision has been taken on the 2 December 2010 and will not be reversed.
“The second one which has been of great discussion, that it is too hot to play in summer. The organizing committee here and the state of Qatar are willing and they are able to organize the World Cup in June and July if required, with a system of air conditioning in the stadium. Naturally, when it would be possible to play in another date, for the World Cup and for Qatar, it would be better. We want to consult now with the different participants in our game and our economic partners to find the date to play in the best possible conditions. The Secretary General of FIFA has been mandated to do so. We will not play the World Cup in January and February. It would be totally disrespectful to the Olympic family and organization when they have the Winter Olympic Games in January and February. We have also consulted our economic and media partners. So many different partners are with FIFA and the Olympic Games so we can not have the partners in two competitions at the same time.
“Thirdly, the state of Qatar are aware of some problems. They have already started to react. We went to the Supreme Committee building and we listened to a presentation. What was presented to us shows that they are going forward not only today but have already started months ago with the problems with labor and workers. The labor laws will be amended and are already in the process of being amended. Special attention will be paid to the different inspections that are necessary, the government inspectors will receive more powers to enforce the labor legislation and there will be accommodation for all the workers. Actually, accommodation is built for workers with room for 60,000 to be opened this December.
“We have also learned that they have already had contact with the Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) union, with the human rights international agencies and with the International Labour Organization (ILO). The part that has impressed me is the workers’ welfare charter and their “Red Card to Forced Labor” initiative.
“I have also received a letter from the BWI who have been here and given us a positive report. They are asking FIFA to enter with them into discussions which we will certainly do. There is, at the end, only one solution and this is getting together with Qatar and FIFA for the benefit of the World Cup. On one side, football and the other, the benefit of the country.
“The World Cup is in nine years but the problems have to be tackled now. We are not responsible for the laws but we are happy to see that the laws will be amended. I am happy that the World Cup in this country can be a catalyst for other countries when organizing competitions to build up the social part, that will also be registered as a legacy.
“Therefore I can say that Qatar is on the right track with the football and the government authorities of this country are on the right track.”
Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Managing Director of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, is quoted as saying: “Once we bid for the World Cup we bid on the premise of hosting in the summer. Having said that we are ready to deliver it whether it’s in the summer or the winter. Either way it’s going to be an amazing World Cup.
“We were happy to show the President a specific workers’ welfare committee that we established to monitor and ensure that we are taking full advantage of the World Cup to bring about necessary changes in improving workers’ welfare, not only in Qatar but also to be an example for other host nations. Taking on a World Cup is a challenge for any host nation. We are happy to have taken that spotlight nine years earlier than most, but we embrace it fully so we can bring about those necessary changes.
“These issues have been taken to heart a very long time ago, once we started our exponential growth and development of the nation. I can ensure everyone that both governmental and non-governmental organizations are continuously working on a day-to-day basis to improve the standards for not only the workers but the inhabitants of this country.
This issue has been important before the World Cup was awarded to us and shall continue to be after the World Cup is finished. We thank FIFA for entrusting us with such a tournament to really catalyse this change and be an example to the world. I look forward to growing the partnership between Qatar and FIFA.”
This story first appeared in the blog, The Sport Intern. The editor is Karl-Heinz Huba of Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached at ISMG@aol.com. The article is reprinted here with permission of Huba.