Qatar will amend its widely criticized labor practices, according to world soccer chief Sepp Blatter after talks with Qatari officials. Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup was “not reversible,” he added.
After meeting senior officials on Saturday, including Emir Tamim bin al-Thani, Blatter said Qatar was “reacting” to criticism from international rights and labor groups about a lack of safeguards for mainly South Asian migrant laborers.
“The labor laws will be amended and special attention will be paid also to inspections of the workers’ accommodation,” Blatter said in Doha.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper had claimed in September that 44 Nepalese workers had died on World Cup construction sites in Qatar.
Blatter added that more consultations were needed on suggestions – raised on Friday in the United Arab Emirates – that the Cup be held at the end of 2022.
“If it’s possible to play at another date, it will be better,” Blatter said, adding that it could not be held in January or February because that would clash with that year’s Winter Olympic Games.
“We have together with the Olympics, the IOC, practically the same media, television and marketing partners and we cannot have two competitions in the same time,” he said.
He also rejected the notion of Qatar co-hosting the World Cup with other nations in the Gulf region.
“The decision of the FIFA is to play in one country and that will be in Qatar;” Blatter said.
Last month, FIFA said it was launching a consultation process to decide whether to shift the tournament from its traditional June-July slot to a cooler phase of the year.
‘Climate of fear’
In early October, the Building and Wood Worker’s International (BWI) trade union federation said officials had found “widespread” evidence of labor standard violations and a “climate of fear” during a four-day visit to the gas-rich Gulf state.
The DWI said its team met many workers from Nepal, India, Bangladesh and the Philippines who spoke of the lack of medical care and their inability to lodge official complaints.
At the time, the head of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee, Ali Al-Marri, admitted there were some problems but denied claims of Nepalese being treated like “slaves”.
ipj/slk (AFP, Reuters, dpa)