2022 FIFA World Cup

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2022 World Cup head tells Germany: Qatar doesn’t back terror

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SHEFFIELD, England (AP) The organizers of the 2022 World Cup have a message for Germany’s soccer leadership ahead of a meeting on Friday: Qatar does not support terrorism.

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While discussing Qatar’s right to host the FIFA showpiece, German soccer federation president Reinhard Grindel said earlier this year that tournaments “cannot be played in countries that actively support terror.”

When Germany plays England at Wembley Stadium on Friday, Grindel is due to come face-to-face with Hassan Al Thawadi, general secretary of Qatar’s World Cup organizing committee.

“Qatar does not support terrorism,” Al Thawadi told The Associated Press on Thursday when asked about Grindel’s comments. “Qatar is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism on the ground. It’s one of the main partners in the coalition fighting ISIS (the Islamic State group).

“But more importantly, the state of Qatar has committed to stop the supply of terror at the roots through initiatives such as education, empowerment, creating economic opportunities for people to ensure that they don’t follow down the path on the way to terrorism – and that isn’t what the state of Qatar stands for.”

Al Thawadi maintained he has a “great relationship with Grindel,” who discussed Qatar’s suitability to host the World Cup after the boycott of Qatar began in June by neighboring who accuse it of funding extremists.

Grindel has also been concerned about conditions for the migrant workforce that the tiny natural gas-rich emirate is relying on to rapidly expand infrastructure, spending tens of billions of dollars to host the first World Cup in the Middle East.

Qatar has been buoyed by the United Nations labor agency ending a potential investigation after looking into whether the nation was observing the Forced Labor Convention. The ILO still plans to monitor Qatar’s progress in ending the “kafala” sponsorship system which binds workers to their employer and ensuring the end of exploitative practices.

“Progress is being made,” Al Thawadi said in an interview during a visit to England. “The journey has not ended, there is still more to be done and we are committed towards that. We are welcoming anybody that has any constructive criticism and will assist us in that journey.”

FIFA was told by its own human rights advisory board to seek more details about deaths classified as “non-work related” and to apply more pressure on the Qatari government to accelerate changes.

In a report published Thursday, the board recommended that FIFA’s administration “actively explores ways to use its leverage to engage with the host government about the impact of the kafala system on migrant workers involved in World Cup construction.”

More AP World Cup coverage at http://www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

Rob Harris is at http://www.twitter.com/RobHarris and http://www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

FIFA World Cup inspector appeals to CAS against 3-year ban

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GENEVA (AP) The FIFA official who led inspections of 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidders says he has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against his three-year ban for seeking unpaid intern work in Qatar for relatives.

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Harold Mayne-Nicholls’s hearing at CAS is likely to be held within months.

It could be the first time that evidence compiled by former FIFA ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia during his investigation into the bid contests won by Russia and Qatar is tested outside a FIFA judicial body.

His team’s reports delivered in 2014 have not been published.

Several soccer officials were banned based on the investigation. No case has yet led to a CAS hearing.

Chilean official Mayne-Nicholls says he filed his appeal with CAS in February, after FIFA’s appeal committee took 10 months to provide written reasons for his ban.

Premier League exec: Top leagues “let down” by winter World Cup

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Although the date change is not yet official, people are already getting called out over a possible winter World Cup.

Chief executive of the Premier League Richard Scudamore has scolded FIFA and UEFA for their plans to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to the winter, which would cause a massive disruption in the play of Europe’s domestic leagues.

[ RELATED: FIFA propose Nov/Dec World Cup  ]

Scudamore spoke after attending a meeting in Doha to discuss a possible date change, where he said executives were “pretty much told” that the tournament would be moved to the winter.

Yes, very disappointed that’s the word, on behalf of all the European leagues and particularly the European clubs who provide most of the players for this World Cup.

The idea that we turned up today, it was a pretty short meeting, to be told that it is going to happen in November and December is very disappointing.

We had a consistent position all along and for the integrity of the Football League to have to stop for six or seven weeks is less than ideal.

FIFA keep their international dates, they keep their World Cup intact, even UEFA, who, I think, let us down a little bit, clearly pushed this… so their Champions League can start and carry on again, just like it always does.”

Although the date change has not officially been approved, a move to November/December is all but done for the 2022 World Cup. While some leagues will reportedly seek compensation for the money lost due to shutting down play for a prolonged period of time, Scudamore said he will leave that issue for others to handle.

[ RELATED: Qatar World Cup scheduling problems strengthen FIFA stigma of incompetence ]

FA Chairman Greg Dyke called the move to winter “the best of the bad options” and called the disruption “unnecessary because we would not be doing this if FIFA had done their work properly.”

We still have seven years until the World Cup in Qatar, so there’s plenty of time for Europe’s top leagues to alter their schedules, because it looks like the tournament is going to kick off on November 19, no matter how angry executives get.

More reports of slave-like conditions in Qatar World Cup cities could turn heat up on FIFA

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In the unlikely event that FIFA’s hierarchy would react to political pressure, soccer’s governing body would likely act on The Guardian’s report that Qatar is using “state sponsored slaves” on construction sites inside World Cup cities.

While the report doesn’t say that the workers, essentially on loan from the North Korean government, are building World Cup stadia in Lusail City — home of the 2022 World Cup final — it does deepen previous reports of gross civil rights issues in Qatar.

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For those unaware, the 2022 World Cup hasn’t exactly been directing volumes of positivity towards Qatar and FIFA. And great news, if you’re one of the lucky North Korean workers to land a poor-paying slave-comparable job in Qatar, you get to work longer than everyone else.

From The Guardian:

In the sprawling construction zone that will eventually become Qatar’s gleaming $45bn (£28bn) Lusail City, where the 2022 World Cup final will be held, four construction sites are said to be using North Korean workers, although there is no suggestion they are involved in building World Cup stadiums.

On one site, North Koreans battled biting desert sands and searing heat to construct a luxury residential tower. They laboured on as day turned to night, long after workers from other nationalities had left the site.

One North Korean worker helping to build the high-rise said: “People like us don’t usually get paid. The money does not come to the person directly. It’s nothing to do with me, it’s the [North Korean recruitment] company’s business.”

A project manager of the lavish development said the workers “don’t have a single rial themselves” and “borrow money from us if they need small things like cigarettes”.

Where can we sign up?!? Then there’s this official quote from a Qatari government spokesperson:

“We take all issues around worker payment extremely seriously. There are currently 2,800 North Korean guest workers registered in Qatar and we have no recorded complaints about their payment or treatment. Qatar is determined to continually improve labour conditions for all who work in the country, and will continue to work with NGOs, businesses and other governments to achieve this.”

Okay, nevermind. No one’s complained. In a slave-like labor situation. Sounds about right.

Even if there was a genuine witch hunt to force the World Cup from Qatar, FIFA would still have to look into stories like this. But as we’ve seen with Turf Gate and the unreleased documents pertaining to the investigation of corruption in Qatar earning the 2022 World Cup, FIFA is very slow to act when it has the power. And if they are willing to host a tournament that screws up the international calendar — something that directly affects the bottom line — it’s hard to think these reports are going to tip the scales.

European clubs propose later domestic Cup finals, April-May World Cup in 2022

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The twisting tale that is the 2022 World Cup in Qatar’s latest turn comes courtesy of the European Club Association’s newly-detailed desires for the tournament.

While FIFA’s non-release of Michael Garcia’s corruption investigation is just the latest step that assures us the tournament isn’t going anywhere, the world of soccer is working to make the searing temperatures of the Middle East as little an obstacle as possible.

So we’ve already read the proposal for late night start times. Now the ECA is saying they’d be willing to postpone their domestic Cup finals and start their seasons two weeks earlier in order to get an April-May tournament instead of the total disruption of a November-December tournament.

[ MORE: Are FIFA and FAs threatening women players over Turf lawsuit? ]

The moves would leave only 10 days prep time for the national teams before the World Cup began, and would also alter the UEFA Champions League schedule.

From the Associated Press:

The ECA proposes condensing the Champions League format to play the round of 16 over two weeks rather than a month, and removing the international double-headers in March. But that could leave up to five months between international competition and the World Cup for nations which qualify.

That proposal also would leave only 10 days between clubs being obliged to release players on April 18 and the World Cup kicking off for teams to squeeze in rest, training and a warm-up game. Before this year’s tournament in Brazil, some teams played three friendlies in the final weeks of preparation.

I, like many of you, have come to terms with the fact that the 2022 World Cup isn’t going anywhere. We don’t have to be happy about it, but FIFA won’t bend on Turfgate. What makes you think they’ll say, “Our bad”, regarding Qatar?