2022 World Cup

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 25:  FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter speaks during the Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia at The Konstantin Palace on July 25, 2015 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
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Blatter: Victimhood was “my destiny”; Qatar World Cup supposed to be in U.S.

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Time isn’t softening the resolve of Sepp Blatter.

FIFA’s disgraced ex-president still sees nothing wrong with his actions in the awarding of World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

Blatter continues to blame former French president Nicolas Sarkozy for the World Cup in Qatar, saying his intention — er, the vote — would’ve given the 2022 World Cup to the United States.

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You know, the country with the attorney general and government who can still punish him.

From Newsweek:

“I regret that [the vote for Qatar] but I cannot change it,” Blatter says when asked if that vote ultimately led to his downfall four and a half years later. “Maybe you are right and if this had not happened I would still be president of FIFA, but nobody is master of his destiny. And my destiny was I would be a victim in this matter. I am a sportsman and I accept you learn to win but you also learn to lose.”

The victim card is an interesting play here, but fairly unsurprising. Blatter cares very much about his legacy, and wants a reprieve. He believes time will tell his story well.

“What I want is, finally, somebody to say one day ‘he has done a good job in FIFA.’” The full article is here.

‘The Workers Cup’ sheds light on migrant workers in Qatar

DOHA, QATAR - APRIL 09: Migrant workers play football on an area of wasteland beneath the sky scrapers of Doha's West Bank on April 09, 2016 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
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PARK CITY, Utah (AP) Director Adam Sobel never intended to end up in Qatar, but it was 2010, jobs were scarce in the U.S. and his longtime girlfriend – now his wife – had just been offered a job teaching at a Northwestern University Qatar. So they went.

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While there, Sobel found work with a local production company that did news stories and documentaries for outlets like BBC, CNN, and HBO. One particular story was requested frequently: That of the migrant workers who were building the facilities for the 2022 Qatar World Cup. He didn’t know it at the time, but the assignment would ultimately provide the foundation for his documentary, “The Workers Cup,” which premiered Thursday night at the Sundance Film Festival.

“Because the subject is so sensitive and because media restrictions were so significant, we either had to hide people’s identities or work undercover. The human touch was lost,” Sobel said. “We wanted to do something that went much deeper than that and really honored the workers for their sacrifices and their hopes and their dreams rather than doing something that just saw them as victims … I wanted to build empathy for the workers instead of sympathy.”

The film centers on the multinational men, from Kenya, Ghana, India and the Philippines, who have given their lives over to slavery-like contracts and dangerous conditions to build the stadiums from the ground up. One man, Kenneth, who was a soccer player in Ghana, shares his story about how a recruiter had told him that if he came to Qatar, he’d get a club soccer contract. It was a lie, and now he’s stuck in Qatar under horrific circumstances.

“We’ve had a lot of context about how the recruiting agents are selling a false bill of goods but certainly I didn’t expect that to be wrapped up in a professional soccer contract,” Sobel said.

The title of the documentary refers to the FIFA-sponsored “workers cup” whereby teams from different construction companies play against one another in a tournament. For men like Kenneth, it takes on a greater poignancy. Yes, it’s a welcome distraction from the conditions, but the fact remains that they are still stuck there.

“We saw (the tournament) as an opportunity because we knew they were interested in promoting this and showing to the world that workers welfare standards were improving,” Sobel said. “There was a definite PR angle there that we took advantage of and we somehow managed to stick around and keep shooting in the camps. We were able to actually get pretty close to the story.”

Sobel worked on the documentary for three years, and kept it completely secret for two due to the sensitive nature of what he planned to show and the strict media standards in the country. He’s excited that his subjects are getting their voices heard at Sundance.

“It’s a story about these guys whose lives have been sacrificed in some way for our own entertainment and that in and of itself reveals that we’re all complicit in the system,” Sobel said. “This is a story of globalization.”

Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ldbahr

FIFA wins legal case over picking Qatar as World Cup host

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 13: A FIFA logo next to the entrance during part I of the FIFA Council Meeting 2016 at the FIFA headquarters on October 13, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)
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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has defeated a legal challenge by trade union groups over picking Qatar as the 2022 World Cup host.

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FIFA says the Commercial Court in Zurich rejected a case filed by labor activists in the Netherlands and Bangladesh on behalf of a Bangladeshi construction worker employed on a World Cup project.

The case claimed FIFA acted wrongfully in choosing Qatar without demanding reform of labor laws, and should be held liable for abuses.

Labor and human rights groups have campaigned against a system for employing hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in the gas-rich emirate.

FIFA says it “welcomes the decision” of the courts, and “will continue to urge the Qatari authorities to ensure safe and decent working conditions for construction workers.”

Union to inspect Qatar’s World Cup sites, wants details on deaths

Sepp Blatter, FIFA president
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LONDON (AP) Qatar’s World Cup sites will be inspected from next year by an international trade union which wants the deaths of all workers assessed by external coroners and for the causes to be published.

Qatar has come under fierce criticism over living and working conditions for workers since being awarded the 2022 World Cup in a contentious vote six years ago.

Qatar says only four stadium workers have died, with just one fatality the result of a work-related accident after a Nepali was hit by a water truck last month. The Building and Wood Workers’ International, which will conduct labor and accommodation inspections with tournament organizers from January, wants more information published about deaths in the low-paid, migrant workforce.

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“We have to know the cause, the actual medical legal cause,” BWI general secretary Ambet Yuson told The Associated Press after signing the partnership with Qatar on Tuesday.

Yuson wants non-Qatari coroners to examine the bodies of workers and for death certificates to be published.

“We will propose this in the working group,” Yuson said. “We really want to know what happened. We want to verify and investigate. They are committed to be open to us.”

World Cup workers are covered by regulations that are more rigorous than the national laws, detailing how contractors must ethically recruit, promptly pay, and decently house them. But the BWI is concerned that the regulations only cover workers directly employed by the companies handed World Cup contracts, overlooking subcontractors who could be forced to live in cramped conditions.

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“We have to look through the whole supply chain, through the subcontracting system,” Yuson said. “There have already been reports that the big multinational construction companies have good facilities.

“Now we are interested in looking at the subcontractors. There is a possibility that many subcontractors are not complying. This is what we want to look at seriously – that the standards are applying not just to the main contractors but to all the level of subcontractors.”

World Cup organizers said Tuesday that 36,000 people will be employed on its projects in the next year as eight stadiums are built.

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“Our inspection and auditing processes will need to be bolstered to ensure we continue to deliver sustainable and meaningful progress for our workers,” organizing committee secretary general Hassan Al Thawadi said in a statement. “While we have made a number of improvements in the last two years, from health and safety to accommodation standards, we recognize there is still work to be done.”

No alcohol at venues for 2022 World Cup in Qatar

DOHA, QATAR - APRIL 09: Migrant workers play football on an area of wasteland beneath the sky scrapers of Doha's West Bank on April 09, 2016 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
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Fans hoping to cool down with a frosty beverage at the red-hot World Cup in Qatar will have to settle for the non-alcoholic variety.

Qatar has announced that it will not allow the consumption of alcohol in stadiums and in public during the 2022 World Cup (which, yes, is still in the Middle Eastern country).

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The United States and the United Kingdom are among those cautioning its fans against drinking at the World Cup, which will certainly rank among the stranger major tournaments in modern history.

From The Washington Post:

“I am personally against the provision of alcohol in stadiums and public places based on our values and our traditions and our culture,” the secretary-general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy Al-Thawadi told Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq.

Al-Thawadi said the country would adhere to its current policies regarding alcohol and allow those who wish to drink to still do so in “specific and faraway places from the public squares.”

Well, at least the focus will be squarely on the games.