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Home / Sports / Football / A year to go, 2022 World Cup still feels heat of scrutiny

A year to go, 2022 World Cup still feels heat of scrutiny

Qatar has not provided full details and data on the deaths of the migrant workers, particularly from South Asia, who are relied on to build the infrastructure across the country
Amnesty International has highlighted the need for deeper investigations into the cause of deaths.

Reuters   |   Published 23.11.21, 02:31 AM

The eight stadiums — all within a 30-mile radius of Doha — are now largely complete. The 2022 World Cup has been preserved after fending off hostility from neighbours, corruption investigations and concerns about worker abuses. And a clock on the Corniche waterfront in the Qatari capital was unveiled on Sunday to count down one year until kick-off.

Expect another 12 months of pressure from rights groups — fueled by player protests — and indignation from some World Cup organisers. “Qatar has been unfairly treated and scrutinised for a number of years,” organising committee CEO Nasser Al Khater said on Saturday.

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That scrutiny, though, has produced improvements to labour laws under the weight of criticism of working conditions since a reported $200 billion of upgrades to the country’s infrastructure began after the Fifa vote in December 2010.

“You take it into context of the region,” Al Khater told reporters, “I think Qatar is a trailblazer right now with all the reform that it’s done, whether it’s on worker standards, accommodation standards, the introduction of minimum wage.”

In some cases it was the World Cup organising committee introducing changes before the country as a whole, but the enforcement of laws and conditions facing workers — particularly in the fierce summer heat — remains a source of concern for groups.

Qatar has not provided full details and data on the deaths of the migrant workers, particularly from South Asia, who are relied on to build the infrastructure across the country.

Amnesty International has highlighted the need for deeper investigations into the cause of deaths, the lack of a right to form unions and the need for all companies to comply with newer laws saying workers should be allowed to leave jobs without permission of the employer.

Twelve countries, as well as Qatar as hosts, have so far secured qualification for the 32-team event. Denmark have said their training kit in Qatar will feature critical human rights messages.

The building work is starting to wind down. “All eight stadiums for the World Cup are complete,” Al Khater said.

Seven venues are now ready to stage matches, with Stadium 974 built using that number of shipping containers to be inaugurated later this month at the Fifa Arab Cup that is serving as a test event for the World Cup.

A 40-minute drive north takes fans to the 80,000-capacity Losail Stadium that will stage the final on December 18, 2022 but is not ready for games.

The challenge for supporters could still be affording the trip. Even though it’s a World Cup requiring no flights between games, demand for accommodation could be stretched in the tiny Gulf nation. What helps fans is being able to stay in neighbouring countries, including the United Arab Emirates, after they lifted an economic, diplomatic and travel boycott of Qatar this year that had been running since 2017.

“The ultimate goal is to have a successful World Cup and you can only have a successful World Cup when you have fans attending,” Al Khater said.

Fans will be travelling months later than usual for the World Cup. Opening on November 21, 2022, with the final on December 18, remains contentious as the major European leagues finalise the starting dates for a season so significantly disrupted for the first time by the World Cup.

Qatar bid for the World Cup under Fifa’s terms for the usual June-July slot, with the schedule change only decided after the vote.

The now largely discredited committee of Fifa executives that voted by a majority for Qatar overlooked concerns about the heat. That vote has remained under the cloud of corruption.



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