Qatar World Cup a ‘done deal’ ,or­gan­iser claims

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Hold­ing the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is a “done deal”, a con­fi­dent head of the Gulf state’s tour­na­ment or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee said yes­ter­day, shrug­ging off on­go­ing cor­rup­tion and hu­man rights con­cerns. Has­san al-Thawadi, sec­re­tary­gen­eral of the Supreme Com­mit­tee for De­liv­ery and Legacy, told the lo­cal Ara­bic daily Al-Sharq news­pa­per that foot­ball’s biggest tour­na­ment will go ahead in the Mid­dle East de­spite calls else­where for Qatar to be stripped of host­ing rights.

“The 2022 World Cup will be held in Qatar, the first in a Mid­dle East­ern, Arab and Mus­lim coun­try,” said Al-Thawadi. “It is a done deal.” He added that World Cup or­gan­is­ers in the Gulf had a “gen­er­ally pos­i­tive” re­la­tion­ship with FIFA, foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body.

Qatar is the sub­ject of an on­go­ing cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­ing car­ried out by Switzer­land’s At­tor­ney Gen­eral of­fice. Launched in May 2015, the Swiss le­gal team is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the bid­ding process amid al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion for the 2022 World Cup-and the 2018 tour­na­ment in Rus­sia.

But Al-Thawadi told Al-Sharq that Qatar had noth­ing to fear.

“I am to­tally con­fi­dent our file is clean,” he said. Qatar also faces con­tin­ued crit­i­cism from hu­man rights groups over the treat­ment of its labour force help­ing to build World Cup venues and re­lated in­fra­struc­ture. That is­sue is likely to come into fo­cus again next month when Qatar is ex­pected to an­nounce the end of its much-crit­i­cised “kafala” labour sys­tem, the source of much crit­i­cism.

“Kafala”, which places re­stric­tions on work­ers’ abil­ity to change jobs and travel, is to be re­placed by a con­tract sys­tem.

How­ever, this is un­likely to pla­cate crit­ics, who have ac­cused Doha of not go­ing far enough with re­forms.

The is­sue of worker-safety is also on­go­ing. Last month Qatar an­nounced its first “work-re­lated” death in re­gard to the World Cup, when a labourer died at the Al-Wakrah Sta­dium. “What con­cerns us now is that this ac­ci­dent is not to be re­peated. There is a com­pre­hen­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tion at the mo­ment and we are go­ing to fin­ish it soon,” said Al-Thawadi.

He also tack­led the thorny is­sue of venue num­bers and said or­gan­is­ers would like to see eight sta­di­ums used dur­ing the 2022 World Cup.

FIFA told AFP last week that a fi­nal de­ci­sion on the num­ber of venues had been pushed back un­til next year at the ear­li­est. Qatar’s suc­cess­ful bid for the tour­na­ment al­lowed for up to 12 sta­di­ums to be used in 2022.

“We are con­fi­dent that we will not be asked to im­ple­ment twelve sta­di­ums,” he said. “We feel that eight sta­di­ums is enough for Qatar.” So far, Qatar has said it will spend up to $10 bil­lion (9 bil­lion eu­ros) on sta­dium con­struc­tion. If eight sta­di­ums are even­tu­ally used it will mean the 2022 fi­nals will have the small­est num­ber of venues at any tour­na­ment since Ar­gentina in 1978.

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