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Qatar 2022.


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Beautiful game, dirty business

Football is a great sport, but it could be so much better if it were run honestly

THE mesmerising wizardry of Lionel Messi and the muscular grace of Cristiano Ronaldo are joys to behold. But for deep-dyed internationalists like this newspaper, the game’s true beauty lies in its long reach, from east to west and north to south. Football, more than any other sport, has thrived on globalisation. Nearly half of humanity will watch at least part of the World Cup, which kicks off in Brazil on June 12th.

So it is sad that the tournament begins under a cloud as big as the Maracanم stadium. Documents obtained by Britain’s Sunday Times have allegedly revealed secret payments that helped Qatar win the hosting rights to the World Cup in 2022 (see article). If that competition was fixed, it has company. A report by FIFA, football’s governing body, is said to have found that several exhibition matches were rigged ahead of the World Cup in 2010. And as usual, no one has been punished.

This only prompts other questions. Why on earth did anyone think holding the World Cup in the middle of the Arabian summer was a good idea? Why is football so far behind other sports like rugby, cricket and tennis in using technology to doublecheck refereeing decisions? And why is the world’s greatest game led by such a group of mediocrities, notably Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s boss since 1998? In any other organisation, the endless financial scandals would have led to his ouster years ago. But more than that, he seems hopelessly out of date; from sexist remarks about women to interrupting a minute’s silence for Nelson Mandela after only 11 seconds, the 78-year-old is the sort of dinosaur that left corporate boardrooms in the 1970s. Nor is it exactly heartening that the attempts to stop Mr Blatter enjoying a fifth term are being led by Michel Platini, Europe’s leading soccercrat, who was once a wonderful midfielder but played a woeful role in supporting the Qatar bid.

Our cheating rotten scoundrels are better than yours

Many football fans are indifferent to all this. What matters to them is the beautiful game, not the tired old suits who run it. And FIFA’s moral turpitude is hardly unique. The International Olympic Committee, after all, faced a Qatar-like scandal over the awarding of the winter games in 2002 (though it has made a much bigger attempt to clean itself up). The boss of Formula One, Bernie Ecclestone, stands accused of bribery in Germany, while American basketball has just had to sack an owner for racist remarks. Cricket, the second-most-global sport, has had its own match-fixing scandals. American football could be overwhelmed by compensation claims for injuries.

But football fans are wrong to think there is no cost to all this. First, corruption and complacency at the top makes it harder to fight skulduggery on the pitch. Ever larger amounts of money are now being bet on each game—it may be $1 billion a match at the World Cup. Under external pressure to reform, FIFA has recently brought in some good people, including a respected ethics tsar, Mark Pieth. But who will listen to lectures about reform from an outfit whose public face is Mr Blatter?

Second, big-time corruption isn’t victimless; nor does it end when a host country is chosen. For shady regimes—the type that bribe football officials—a major sporting event is also a chance to defraud state coffers, for example by awarding fat contracts to cronies. Tournaments that ought to be national celebrations risk becoming festivals of graft.

Finally, there is a great opportunity cost. Football is not as global as it might be (see article). The game has failed to conquer the world’s three biggest countries: China, India and America. In the United States soccer, as they call it, is played but not watched. In China and India the opposite is true. The latter two will not be playing in Brazil (indeed, they have played in the World Cup finals just once between them).

In FIFA’s defence, the big three’s reticence owes much to their respective histories and cultures and the strength of existing sports, notably cricket in India. And football is slowly gaining ground: in the United States the first cohort of American parents to grow up with the game are now passing it on to their children. But that only underlines the madness of FIFA giving the cup to Qatar, not America. And the foul air from FIFA’s headquarters in Switzerland will hardly reassure young fans in China who are heartily sick of the corruption and match-fixing in their domestic soccer leagues.

A Seppless world

It would be good to get rid of Mr Blatter, but that would not solve FIFA’s structural problem. Though legally incorporated as a Swiss non-profit organisation, FIFA has no master. Those who might hold it to account, such as national or regional football organisations, depend on its cash. High barriers to entry make it unlikely that a rival will emerge, so FIFA has a natural monopoly over international football. An entity like this should be regulated, but FIFA answers to no government.

All the same, more could be done. The Swiss should demand a clean-up or withdraw FIFA’s favourable tax status. Sponsors should also weigh in on graft and on the need to push forward with new technology: an immediate video review of every penalty and goal awarded would be a start.

The hardest bit of the puzzle is the host-selection process. One option would be to stick the World Cup in one country and leave it there; but that nation’s home team would have a big advantage, and tournaments benefit from moving between different time zones. An economically rational option would be to give this year’s winner, and each successive champion, the option of either hosting the tournament in eight years’ time or auctioning off that right to the highest bidder. That would favour football’s powerhouses. But as most of them already have the stadiums, there would be less waste—and it would provide even more of an incentive to win.

Sadly, soccer fans are romantic nationalists, not logical economists—so our proposal stands less chance of winning than England does. One small step towards sanity would be formally to rotate the tournament, so it went, say, from Europe to Africa to Asia to the Americas, which would at least stop intercontinental corruption. But very little of this will happen without change at the top in Zurich.

source economist


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Qatar World Cup: migrants wait a year to be paid for building offices

Workers who fitted out lavish offices used by tournament organisers say they are trapped after collapse of contractor

Exclusive Migrant workers who built luxury offices used by Qatar's 2022 football World Cup organisers have told the Guardian they have not been paid for more than a year and are now working illegally from cockroach-infested lodgings.

Officials in Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy have been using offices on the 38th and 39th floors of Doha's landmark al-Bidda skyscraper – known as the Tower of Football – which were fitted out by men from Nepal, Sri Lanka and India who say they have not been paid for up to 13 months' work.

The project, a Guardian investigation shows, was directly commissioned by the Qatar government and the workers' plight is set to raise fresh doubts over the autocratic emirate's commitment to labour rights as construction starts this year on five new stadiums for the World Cup.

The offices, which cost £2.5m to fit, feature expensive etched glass, handmade Italian furniture, and even a heated executive toilet, project sources said. Yet some of the workers have not been paid, despite complaining to the Qatari authorities months ago and being owed wages as modest as £6 a day.

By the end of this year, several hundred thousand extra migrant workers from some of the world's poorest countries are scheduled to have travelled to Qatar to build World Cup facilities and infrastructure. The acceleration in the building programme comes amid international concern over a rising death toll among migrant workers and the use of forced labour.

"We don't know how much they are spending on the World Cup, but we just need our salary," said one worker who had lost a year's pay on the project. "We were working, but not getting the salary. The government, the company: just provide the money."

The migrants are squeezed seven to a room, sleeping on thin, dirty mattresses on the floor and on bunk beds, in breach of Qatar's own labour standards. They live in constant fear of imprisonment because they have been left without paperwork after the contractor on the project, Lee Trading and Contracting, collapsed. They say they are now being exploited on wages as low as 50p an hour.

Their case was raised with Qatar's prime minister by Amnesty International last November, but the workers have said 13 of them remain stranded in Qatar. Despite having done nothing wrong, five have even been arrested and imprisoned by Qatari police because they did not have ID papers. Legal claims lodged against the former employer at the labour court in November have proved fruitless. They are so poor they can no longer afford the taxi to court to pursue their cases, they say.

A 35-year-old Nepalese worker and father of three who ssaid he too had lost a year's pay: "If I had money to buy a ticket, I would go home."

Qatar's World Cup organising committee confirmed that it had been granted use of temporary offices on the floors fitted out by the unpaid workers. It said it was "heavily dismayed to learn of the behaviour of Lee Trading with regard to the timely payment of its workers". The committee stressed it did not commission the firm. "We strongly disapprove and will continue to press for a speedy and fair conclusion to all cases," it said.

Jim Murphy, the shadow international development secretary, said the revelation added to the pressure on the World Cup organising committeeafter . "They work out of this building, but so far they can't even deliver justice for the men who toiled at their own HQ," he said.

Sharan Burrow, secretary general of the International Trade Union Confederation, said the workers' treatment was criminal. "It is an appalling abuse of fundamental rights, yet there is no concern from the Qatar government unless they are found out," she said. "In any other country you could prosecute this behaviour."

Contracts show the project was commissioned by Katara Projects, a Qatar government organisation under the auspices of the office of the then heir apparent, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who is now the emir. He also heads the supreme committee, the World Cup organising body. The committee is spending at least £4bn building new stadiums for the tournament, which has become mired in allegations of bribery, while there is disbelief at the prospect of playing the tournament in Qatar's 50C summer heat.

Katara said it terminated its agreement with Lee Trading when it discovered the mistreatment of workers and non-payment of wages, and made efforts to repatriate those affected or find them new jobs. It said several workers had been compensated after court settlements. "If there are employees who were not repatriated, did not find employment or did not receive compensation, we would be happy to engage in any effort with the ministry of labour and ministry of interior to rectify the situation," a spokesman said.

The problems at the Tower of Football workers are not isolated, despite Qatar's pledges to monitor salary payments and abolish the kafala sponsorship system, which stops migrant workers changing job or leaving Qatar without their employer's consent. In 2012 and 2013, 70 labourers from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka died from falls or strikes by objects, 144 died in traffic accidents and 56 killed themselves, the government's own figures show. Dozens more young migrant workers die mysteriously in their sleep from suspected heart attacks every summer.

The Guardian discovered more projects where salaries had not been paid. They included a desert camp of 65 workers who had not been paid for several months, were sleeping eight to a room, and were living with dirty drinking water, filthy, unplumbed toilets and no showers.

source independent


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Qatar will not host 2022 World Cup: FIFA executive committee | News , Middle East | THE DAILY STAR

Qatar will not host 2022 World Cup: FIFA executive committee

BERLIN: The 2022 World Cup will not be held in Qatar because of the scorching temperatures in the Middle East country, FIFA Executive Committee member Theo Zwanziger said on Monday.

"I personally think that in the end the 2022 World Cup will not take place in Qatar," the German told Sport Bild on Monday.

"Medics say that they cannot accept responsibility with a World Cup taking place under these conditions," the former German football (DFB) chief, who is now a member of the world soccer's governing body FIFA that awarded the tournament to Qatar in 2010.

Although wealthy Qatar has insisted that a summer World Cup is viable thanks to cooling technologies it is developing for stadiums, training areas and fan zones, there is still widespread concern over the health of the players and visiting supporters.

"They may be able to cool the stadiums but a World Cup does not take place only there," Zwanziger said.

"Fans from around the world will be coming and travelling in this heat and the first life-threatening case will trigger an investigation by a state prosecutor.

"That is not something that FIFA Exco members want to answer for."

FIFA officials, contacted by Reuters, said Zwanziger was not giving the view of the all powerful Executive Committee.

"He is expressing a personal opinion and he explicitly says so," FIFA spokewoman Delia Fischer said. "We will not comment on a personal opinion."

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said in May that awarding the World Cup to Qatar was a 'mistake' and the tournament would probably have to be held in the European winter.

"Of course, it was a mistake. You know, one comes across a lot of mistakes in life," he told Swiss television station RTS in an interview at the time.

"The Qatar technical report indicated clearly that it is too hot in summer, but the executive committee with quite a big majority decided all the same that the tournament would be in Qatar," he added.

FIFA is now looking to shift the tournament to a European winter date to avoid the scorching summer where temperatures routinely rise over 40 Celsius.

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa chaired a meeting to discuss the matter earlier this month with the options of January/February 2022 and November/December 2022 offered as alternatives to June/July.

However, talk of a potential change away from the usual dates has resulted in plenty of opposition from domestic leagues around the world, worried the schedule switch would severely disrupt them.

Both FIFA and Qatar World Cup organisers have also been fending off questions of corruption ever since they were awarded the tournament back in 2010, while Qatar has also been criticised for the conditions provided for migrant workers' in the tiny Gulf state.

I had a feeling this announcement was gonna come up sooner or later. all these accusations of corruption and harsh working conditions and the mere mention of the summer heat there, was bound to happen.


Master Penguin
Qatar will not host 2022 World Cup: FIFA executive committee | News , Middle East | THE DAILY STAR

I had a feeling this announcement was gonna come up sooner or later. all these accusations of corruption and harsh working conditions and the mere mention of the summer heat there, was bound to happen.

15:38 الفيفا: ما صدر عن الرئيس السابق للاتحاد الالماني لكرة القدم حول مونديال قطر هو رأي شخصي


Well-Known Member

15:38 الفيفا: ما صدر عن الرئيس السابق للاتحاد الالماني لكرة القدم حول مونديال قطر هو رأي شخصي

I wish he had used the term "should not host" rather than "will not host", can get confusing sometimes whether it's an official announcement or a personal opinion, but then again how can it not sound official it he said "will not host":noidea:
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Qatar 2022: Fifa investigation into World Cup vote 'ignoring the new evidence', critics claim

Fifa was accused on Monday night of conducting a selective investigation into allegations of widespread corruption surrounding Qatar’s successful bid to stage the 2022 World Cup – after it emerged that the official inquiry will be completed within days.

Michael Garcia, the former US attorney appointed to head the semi-independent investigatory chamber of Fifa’s ethics committee, said he would finish his report by Monday, submitting it to Fifa around six weeks later.

The Sunday Times, which published a swathe of allegation based on millions of Fifa documents over the weekend, claimed Mr Garcia’s team was ignoring the new evidence. It is possible, however, that Mr Garcia had already obtained much of the information.

Heidi Blake, one of the journalists involved in the Sunday Times investigation, tweeted: “They hadn’t even read our articles, let alone asked to see #FifaFiles. Now inquiry cut short to exclude them.”

In a further twist to the 2022 World Cup bid scandal, it emerged that the investigation overseen by Mr Garcia has questioned members of the defeated Australian bid team over its spending.

Australia bid alongside Qatar, the US, South Korea and Japan for the right to host the 2022 finals, One of the witnesses reportedly flown to New York to meet Mr Garcia, Bonita Mersiades, a former corporate affairs manager for Football Federation Australia (FFA), told Australian media there were “parallels” between how the Australian bid spent some of its money and the allegations levelled against Mohamed Bin Hammam, Qatar’s former vice-president of Fifa.

Mr Garcia released a statement on Monday following a long-scheduled meeting with Qatari 2022 officials in Oman. It said: “After months of interviewing witnesses and gathering materials, we intend to complete that phase of our investigation by 9 June 9 2014, and to submit a report to the adjudicatory chamber approximately six weeks thereafter.

“The report will consider all evidence potentially related to the bidding process, including evidence collected from prior investigations.”

The latest allegations surround Bin Hammam and claims he made payments of some £3m in cash and gifts to officials around the world to smooth the path for his country’s bid. Bin Hammam, banned from football in 2011 over claims he bribed officials to support his campaign to become Fifa president, was not part of the bid team and Qatari officials have denied all allegations of impropriety.

The vote of Fifa’s executive committee to decide the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 finals was taken at the same time and was surrounded by a swirl of corruption allegations. That Mr Garcia’s investigation is looking beyond Qatar comes as little surprise to those involved with the bidding process from its outset. “We’ve been heavily involved in this now for many months in terms of the investigation that Mr Garcia is carrying out,” said David Gallop, chief executive of the FFA.

Were Fifa’s ethics committee to recommend a a new vote – an outcome that still remains unlikely despite calls for one from the likes of Greg Dyke, chairman of the FA – then Australia would have been one of the favourites given that the US, another bidder, prefers to focus on securing the 2026 finals.

Those prospects would be damaged if the allegations made by Ms Mersiades were substantiated. Ms Mersiades told the Melbourne Age: “The revelations about the way Bin Hammam used hospitality, gifts, perks, and upgrades of stadiums to win bid support has parallels with the manner in which Australia used some of its funds during its bidding campaign.”

The Australian bid has previously been linked with payments to Jack Warner, the Trinidadian who was a powerful figure on Fifa’s executive committee until he was forced out over separate corruption allegations, and Reynald Temarii, another former Fifa executive whose name consistently crops up in connection with allegations of corruption surrounding the 2022 bids.

Fifa have so far refused to comment on the reports, referring all inquiries to Mr Garcia’s office.

source independent


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Fifa ask Swiss police to launch criminal investigation into Russia and Qatar World Cup bids following allegations of corruption

A criminal investigation is to be launched into the awarding of hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

In an unexpected development, Fifa has asked the Swiss authorities to launch a criminal inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the bidding processes, which ultimately saw the tournaments given to Russia and Qatar.

The move, which follows days of criticism of Fifa for allegedly covering up its own evidence of corruption in the bidding, raises the prospect that some of football’s most prominent current and former administrators could face criminal charges.

Announcing the referral to Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General, Fifa’s president, Sepp Blatter, said internal inquiries had discovered “grounds for suspicion that, in isolated cases, international transfers of assets with connections to Switzerland took place”.

Fifa’s own investigation into alleged corruption – by the US lawyer Michael Garcia – did not have the authority to compel people to give evidence. Individuals who could now be interviewed by police include several members of the 22-strong committee who voted in 2010 to award the two tournaments to Russia and Qatar and who have since left Fifa after different corruption allegations.

The Swiss authorities, Fifa said in a statement, “will have the ability to conduct investigations under application of criminal procedural coercive measures”.

The decision four years ago to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, a country with no football history and not a single suitable stadium, has been described as the most controversial in the history of football. Anger has grown in recent months, with the realisation that Europe’s powerful domestic leagues may have to suspend their seasons so the tournament can be played in the cooler winter months.

In awarding the tournament to Qatar, Fifa ignored the advice of its own medical officers which stated that a tournament in June and July in the desert heat would be dangerous to players’ health. Fifa has since made clear it will have to move the tournament to a winter date.

Human rights campaigners have also been heavily critical of the appalling treatment of migrant workers building the stadiums.

Neither Mr Blatter, nor Hans-Joachim Eckert, the German judge who heads Fifa’s Ethics Committee and who recommended the complaint be lodged, have disclosed the identities of the individuals potentially of interest to investigators, or which of the various bids for the two tournaments the complaints concern.

Russia and Qatar won the double vote for the two tournaments, but Fifa’s summary of Mr Garcia’s investigation into the affair was more critical of England and Australia’s failed bids than it was the two winners.

In making the recommendation to call in the police, Mr Eckert, whose short summary of the investigation has been branded by Mr Garcia as “incomplete and erroneous”, said there is “insufficient incriminating evidence to justify calling into question the entire award process”, a sentiment echoed by Mr Blatter, who reiterated his view that the bidding process has “concluded”.

In the past four years, five of the 22 members who voted for Russia and Qatar have left Fifa amid allegations of corruption. Among them are Mohamed bin Hammam, the Qatari football administrator who had no official role in the bid but who is widely seen as having been instrumental in having secured it.

Others are the Trinidadian Jack Warner and American Chuck Blazer. The Swiss authorities will not have an easy time compelling any of these men to speak to them, though they can investigate whatever bank accounts the men or their families may have held in Switzerland.

But whatever investigations they do make will almost certainly be highly time consuming, with tournament preparations ongoing in both nations all the while, increasing the practical difficulty for the locations to be changed.

Among those still on the committee are the Cameroonian Issa Hayatou, who was accused by Panorama of having taken bribes in the 1990s, which he denied.

The announcement comes before Mr Garcia and Mr Eckert’s scheduled meeting on Thursday. The pair are not believed to have spoken since the American condemned the German’s summary of his report for containing “numerous incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts” .

Mr Eckert dismissed the suggestion made by Simon Johnson, the head of England’s 2018 bid, that the summary had been a “politically motivated whitewash”.

“I can only work with the material contained in it,” he said. “And in my view, there was insufficient clear evidence of illegal or irregular conduct that would call into question the integrity of the award process as a whole.”

This latest development will only increase pressure on Fifa to publish Mr Garcia’s report in full as many have demanded.

Mr Blatter said that to do so, even in redacted form, would be illegal given the promise of anonymity that was given to those who took part. “The people who are demanding in the media and elsewhere that Fifa publish the report are obviously of the opinion that Fifa should or must ignore the law in this regard,” he said. Mr Blatter said he had not seen the report, but confirmed that it will be passed in its entirety to the Swiss

source independent

ecce homo

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Fifa whistleblower Phaedra Al-Majid fears for her safety

BBC News - Fifa whistleblower Phaedra Al-Majid says she will "look over my shoulder for the rest of my life" after making allegations of corruption against Qatar's successful 2022 World Cup bid.

In a two-year inquiry which cleared Qatar, Al-Majid repeated allegations she made and later retracted in 2011.

She told the BBC her accusations introduced her to "a whole new culture of paranoia, fear and threats".

In response, Qatar said they "stand by the integrity of their bid".

They said a series of allegations about their conduct had been "over a period of years, investigated, tested, considered and dismissed".

Al-Majid worked as an international media officer for the Qatar 2022 bid team before losing her job in 2010.

Her allegations that Qatari bid officials offered to pay for the votes of three Fifa members first came to light in 2011. Later the same year, she signed an affidavit saying they were false.

She now says she was coerced into changing her statement.

"I had no more legal representation," she said. "When the Qataris approached me, I was alone. I'm also the single mother of two children, one of whom is severely autistic and severely disabled."

Al-Majid said officers from the FBI visited her in September 2011 after they became aware of threats against her.

She said: "They questioned me about the Qatari bidding process and they questioned me about all the threats I had received from the Qataris.

"It was decided at that point that I would help them with their investigation and it was planned that I would talk to a senior official at the Qatar bid.

"So when I talked to the official - and the FBI are recording this - he did admit that there was a deal for the affidavit, that I would basically say that they had done no wrongdoing."

Al-Majid, who says she is "tired of Fifa's culture of secrecy", provided all her information to Michael Garcia, the US investigator appointed by Fifa to look into allegations of wrongdoing during the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

But judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, who released a 42-page summary of Garcia's findings on 13 November, said her evidence contained "inconsistencies" which prejudiced its credibility.

In contrast, Qatar say they supplied "full and valuable" assistance to the Garcia enquiry, which ran for two years.

"We stand by the quality and integrity of our bid and will not comment further at this time on allegations that have been, over a period of years, investigated, tested, considered and dismissed," added a statement from the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee.

Garcia subsequently criticised Eckert's summary and the pair are due to meet on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Fifa president Sepp Blatter has rejected FA chairman Greg Dyke's call to publish Garcia's findings in full.

Blatter says publishing the report would break Fifa's rules and Swiss law, claiming every person in the report would have to give consent to publication - something that would be practically impossible.

Blatter asks if Dyke's letter may be interpreted as "providing consent" on behalf of any member of England 2018's bid team and "as a corresponding waiver of any legal action in the event of such publication."

Fifa has already announced it has filed a criminal complaint with the Swiss attorney general in respect of unnamed individuals who report names may have breached Swiss law during the World Cup bidding.


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The world game's governing body have suggested the global showpiece be held prior to Christmas in seven years' time

A Fifa task force has proposed holding the Qatar World Cup in November and December of 2022 with the decision to be ratified next March.

World football's governing body has decided temperatures in the Middle Eastern state will be too extreme in the traditional playing months of June and July, despite this issue being initially raised during the voting process.

Fifa says every confederation has given the green light to shifting the tournament back five months, although it is unknown how this will impact the European leagues with an August-May schedule.

"Following a six-month consultation process, Fifa’s task force for the International Match Calendar 2018-24 held its third and final meeting today in Doha, identifying end-November/end-December as the most viable period for the 2022 FIFA World Cup," Fifa confirmed on Tuesday.

"The proposed event dates have the full support of all six confederations. The proposal will be discussed at the next meeting of the Fifa Executive Committee, scheduled to take place in Zurich on March 19 and 20, 2015.

"The only remaining effective option is the November-December window. For legal reasons, the 22nd edition of the World Cup must be played within the calendar year 2022."

AFC president Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, who led the task force, claimed the best option had been clarified by Fifa.

"We are very pleased that, after careful consideration of the various opinions and detailed discussions with all stakeholders, we have identified what we believe to be the best solution for the 2018-2024 international match calendar and football in general," he said.

"It was a challenging task and I want to thank all members of the football community for their productive input and constructiveness in helping to find a solution that we believe can work for everyone."

Fifa initially insisted during the bidding process that the tournament could be played across June and July, leading to discontent and accusations of corruption when it became clear that such an outcome was an impossibility.

Fifa appointed ex-US attorney Michael Garcia to investigate allegations of corruption, but his full report remains in legal limbo.


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Qatar claims life improving for World Cup workers, but rights groups sceptical

While the labour minister says the state is moving as fast as it can, activists are concerned about the slow pace of change

Qatari authorities claim to have made improvements in the conditions for hundreds of thousands of migrant workers building for the 2022 World Cup, though human rights groups still complain about the pace of change.

Officials insist they are moving as fast as they can to overhaul their labour laws and improve conditions for construction workers, who face privation, penury and harsh restrictions on workplace rights in the Gulf state. Hundreds die each year because of accidents, heart failure or other health problems blamed on their working environment.

But a year on from the completion of an independent report by the law firm DLA Piper commissioned by the government in the wake of a series of Guardian investigations, human rights organisation and sources involved in the auditing progress say too little has changed structurally.

There is also deep concern that more than four years after Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup, the country’s minister of labour has admitted that there is no set timetable to introduce even the modest reforms it promised in May 2014.

The minister, Abdulla al-Khulaifi, told the Guardian Qatar was “moving as fast as the system allows” to deliver promised changes to labour laws and improve conditions for an army of migrant workers expected to swell to 2.5 million within five years.

During a recent visit, the Guardian was shown new accommodation and facilities that certainly seemed an improvement. But we also witnessed dormitories where little had changed, and where workers still complained about they way they were treated.

Damning reports by human rights organisations cataloguing the dire living conditions for many workers tied to their employers by the kafala system and investigations by the Guardian resulted in an international outcry and criticism of Fifa for not doing more to bring pressure to bear.

A year on from the DLA Piper report, which was not formally published by the Qataris but has been seen by the Guardian, NGOs say that while the country has made some progress in improving conditions for workers they remain deeply concerned about the lack of structural change.

“On a state level, it’s been very disappointing,” said Nicholas McGeehan, a Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch who has worked extensively in Qatar to reveal the scale of the problem. “The initiatives of the 2022 supreme committee and the Qatar Foundation [the government’s not for profit investment arm], should help, the new living quarters are a good step but it is four-and-a-half years since they won the World Cup bid. In that time, very little has changed structurally.

“The modifications they are talking about making to kafala could result in workers being tied to their employer for five years [instead of permanently], so it’s more of an entrenchment of the system than a reform. It’s duplicitous for them to claim that they are getting rid of it: all they are doing is dropping the name.”

The Qatar Foundation and the Qatar 2022 supreme committee that has begun building the stadiums have introduced new codes of conduct for contractors.

The government has also begun building vast new “labour cities” to house workers in more sanitary and less dangerous conditions, while also increasing the number of labour inspectors.

The suspicion is that Qatar will point to progress in living conditions, and some small practical changes such laws requiring the payment of wages electronically, while failing to make progress on reforming kafala and more complex new laws around policing the supply chain.

A recent Amnesty report accused the government of “dragging its feet” and a forthcoming briefing from the human rights organisation is expected to argue that the response to date has been inadequate.

But Khulaifi insisted there was a genuine commitment to change and that Qatar was winning support from groups that had previously proved resistant in the wake of widespread global condemnation of abuses.

He said companies faced severe fines or closure if they failed to comply with new rules on payment of wages, standards of accommodation and other aspects of the employment of migrant workers in the hyper-wealthy Gulf emirate.

“I doubt if there is a country in the world that could pass a law within a month or two or three,” Khulaifi told the Guardian in an interview in Doha, part of an effort to try to improve the country’s image with the help of a London-based firm of strategic communications advisers.

“Any proposed law has to come to the cabinet, the cabinet has to send it to the stakeholders. Then it has to go to the shura [consultative] council. We are moving as fast as the system allows us. Labour issues are a high priority for this government.”

Khulaifi said that while there was no firm timetable for completion of the reforms, it was important that the Qatari public bought into them. “I see more in agreement with us than are again us,” he said. “But it will take time as in any other country in the world.

“Our people are reasonable. Our culture is humane. In our grandfathers’ time, when they used to have slavery, they ate together and treated them as part of the family. Our culture directs us to honouring our contracts and our promises.”

But the lack of a clear timetable is a major problem for human rights groups. Khulaifi said changes to kafala would “not allow an employer to have a monopoly over an employee” – one of the most controversial features of the current system. But Human Rights Watch and Amnesty have argued the proposed new system is merely a rebranding.

Khulaifi added that there were no plans to introduce a minimum wage. “Those who came and worked with us have flourished economically,” he said. “The market decides.”

A Guardian investigation in July found that even workers on the World Cup stadiums, governed by the supreme committee code of practice, were earning as little as 45p an hour.

The Qatari government was committed to change after being treated “unfairly” in the media, he said. “Oil prices are going down but this ministry has always been given what it requires,” Khulaifi added. “The resources are there. The will is there. We have no reason not to improve.”

source Guardian


Active Member
England could host the 2022 World Cup

England is ready to host the 2022 World Cup if Qatar is stripped of its hosting duties because of the corruption scandal, British culture secretary John Whittingdale says.

Whittingdale told MPs, as reported by ITV News and Sky News, that Britain could host the 2022 World Cup if FIFA decides to back away from Qatar after several high-ranking FIFA officials were charged with racketeering and corruption.

The charges relate to more than $150 million in alleged bribes and kickbacks from the 1990s to today.

Last week, the US Department of Justice accused in an extensive statement the international soccer governing body of a "24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer."

Four men, including former top-ranking FIFA executive Chuck Blazer, have already pleaded guilty. The DOJ's indictment charges 14 defendants with racketeering, wire fraud, money-laundering conspiracies, and other offences.

source businessinsider


Legendary Member
Orange Room Supporter
‘Leggings are NOT pants’: Qatar puts its foot down with dress code as it launches advertising campaign reminding female tourists what not to wear
  • 'If you are in Qatar, you are one of us': Qatar aims to educate tourists on modesty
  • Men wearing shorts and singlets in public will be frowned upon
  • Women should also avoid wearing garments which are too short or too tight, such as mini-skirts or sleeveless dresses

PUBLISHED: 09:58 GMT, 28 May 2014 | UPDATED: 13:38 GMT, 28 May 2014



Master Penguin
‘Leggings are NOT pants’: Qatar puts its foot down with dress code as it launches advertising campaign reminding female tourists what not to wear
  • 'If you are in Qatar, you are one of us': Qatar aims to educate tourists on modesty
  • Men wearing shorts and singlets in public will be frowned upon
  • Women should also avoid wearing garments which are too short or too tight, such as mini-skirts or sleeveless dresses

PUBLISHED: 09:58 GMT, 28 May 2014 | UPDATED: 13:38 GMT, 28 May 2014

This leaflet is old. Maybe 2-3 years old.