Qatar World Cup Chief Welcomes "Constructive Criticism"

Bookmark and Share
(WFI) Qatar 2022 World Cup chief says the next six years of development will be just as progressive as the first six.

Al-Thawadi, right, speaks to the international press (WFI)
Supreme Committee secretary general Hassan Al-Thawadi spoke to reporters during the 2016 Association of National Olympic Committees General Assembly in Doha. Reporters were invited to see the progress made on the Al-Rayyan stadium and facilities surrounding it.

Al-Thawadi told INSIDER that while the spotlight “has shined away a little bit” from Qatar over the last three years, he is “very proud…of the developments that [Qatar] has made.” Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup six years ago, and is halfway in preparations for the first mega-sporting event in the Middle East. A Qatar 2022 release referenced the World Cup as the “most compact” in FIFA’s history, allowing it to be the “ultimate live experience” for fans.

“We are showcasing that we are moving ahead,” Al-Thawadi said. “Every step of the way for the last six years, and even when the brightest spotlight was on us we moved ahead.”

Much of the international criticism facing the 2022 World Cup stems from workers' rights in Qatar. The country practices a labor system where migrant workers require sponsorship to enter and leave the country. In addition, international reports from NGOs and media showed rampant abuse in labor practices.

Last year, the Emir of Qatar approved changes to the country’s “Kafala system,” allowing workers the right to appeal a sponsor’s decision to deny them exit permits. Further changes to the system have been passed by the legislature and Emir, but they are yet to be implemented. The new changes allow migrant workers to change employers more easily and prevent employers from withholding migrants’ passports. Critics of the changes say that the new laws do not go far enough to prevent abuse through withholding the issuing of exit visas trapping migrants in the country.

Al-Thawadi said that to address issues the supreme committee has implemented four levels of auditing on the conditions migrant workers will live in. The four levels include the contractors building the 2022 stadiums, the supreme committee, the government of Qatar, and an independent auditing firm monitoring the process. In addition to the audit, Al-Thawadi says the Supreme Committee enacted its second edition of worker’s welfare standards that are in line with international NGOs.

“Progress is being made in a very impressive manner and impressive pace,” Al-Thawadi said. “You’ve seen the significant infrastructure developments that have occurred, whether it is in terms of entertainment centers, in terms of stadiums, or in terms of transportation infrastructure.”

Doha's cityscape (WFI)
As developments for the first Middle East World Cup continue, Al-Thawadi says Qatar 2022 organisers are sticking to their original plan presented to FIFA in 2010. That includes a ban on alcohol in stadiums and outside of specially approved zones. Al-Thawadi told reporters the decision was done to make the World Cup fit in with Qatari law, and as “family friendly” as possible. The World Cup will take place in eight stadiums across the country, the minimum required by FIFA for a World Cup.

Construction in and around Doha will continue at a breakneck speed to prepare for the influx of fans. That includes the metro system, which is expected to begin operation in 2019 with the intention to expand to over 100 stations by 2026.

Al-Thawadi accepts that media attention will only continue to grow over the next six years. The 2018 World Cup in Russia is less than two years away, after which the entire football world will focus on Qatar. Al-Thawadi says he hasn’t noticed a decrease in international scrutiny, Qatar 2022 leaders will always continue to work to address legitimate criticisms.

“We didn’t shirk away from the criticism,” Al-Thawadi says. “So when the spotlight comes back they’ll see a country that’s completely moving forward with progress, developing and welcoming constructive criticism, and ignoring criticism that has intentions other than constructive criticism and passing on false information.”

By INSIDER’s Aaron Bauer

Your best source of news about the global football business is World Football INSIDER

Get Free WFI news bulletins Click Here

(Copyright 1992 - , all rights reserved. The information in this report may not be published, excerpted, or otherwise distributed in print or broadcast without the express prior consent of World Football Insider and Around the Rings, Inc.)

 WFI Spotlight