Qatar World Cup chief tells FAW and others to ‘focus on the football’ over human rights criticism
Qatar’s World Cup chief has told the Football Association of Wales and others to “focus on the football” and keep criticism of the hosts to themselves during the tournament.
The Football Association of Wales said earlier this year it wanted to see “further significant and lasting improvements” in the conditions of migrant workers in Qatar, including ongoing support through the creation of a migrant workers centre.
Wales and England captains Gareth Bale and Harry Kane also plan to wear rainbow-coloured ‘One Love’ armbands at the tournament if allowed by FIFA.
But Nasser al-Khater, the chief executive of the 2022 Qatar World Cup, dismissed the campaign: “This is a sporting tournament that people want to come [to] and enjoy. Turning it into a platform of political statements I don’t think is right for the sport.”
Speaking to the Times newspaper, he added: “A lot of people that speak about this issue on workers’ welfare are not experts in the industry. And they’re not experts in what they’re speaking about.
“And I feel that they feel obliged, that they need to speak. I think they need to really read and educate themselves a little bit more about what’s happening on the ground in Qatar.
“When people come out and say, ‘Yes, we agree that there needs to be some sort of compensation fund,’ they’re just reading off a piece of paper.
“So let’s leave that to the experts and let us focus on football. Let the football administrators focus on their teams. And let’s just leave it at that.”
Migrant workers have been heavily involved in the construction of World Cup stadia and other infrastructure in the Gulf state since it was awarded the finals back in 2010, with Amnesty and other groups highlighting the human rights abuses they have suffered.
The groups have called on FIFA and the Qatari state to set up a fund which reimburses migrant workers for unpaid wages and for recruitment fees they have been forced to pay, and which would compensate the families of migrant workers who have been killed or injured at work.
Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s chief executive, said: “The British public – fans and non-fans alike – want justice for abused World Cup workers, and they want to see the English and Welsh FAs showing they genuinely care about human rights by publicly backing a FIFA-funded workers’ remediation programme.
“FIFA should have insisted on human rights clauses when it originally assessed Qatar’s hosting bid – now it needs to make amends.
“Whoever wins the World Cup, we need to see proper recognition of the abuses so many workers experienced in the long and troubled lead-up to Qatar 2022.”
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