2022 World Cup

Sepp Blatter, FIFA president
AP Photo/Michael Probst

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

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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)
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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.

Dutch union threatens FIFA with legal action over Qatar

DOHA, QATAR - OCTOBER 23: (EDITORS NOTE: Image was created using a variable
planed lens.) A worker uses a wheelbarrow to move cinder blocks on a construction site in the budding new financial district on October 23, 2011 in Doha, Qatar. Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup football competition and is slated to tackle a variety of infrastructure projects, including the construction of new stadiums.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) A Dutch labor union is threatening FIFA with legal action if it does not step in to halt what the union has branded “modern slavery” in the construction of venues for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

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Dutch union FNV says it wants “FIFA to accept its responsibility and end exploitation of workers” in stadium construction ahead of the tournament.

The gas-rich emirate is expected to spend tens of billions of dollars before the November-December 2022 tournament kicks off, preparing eight new and renovated stadiums and related projects such as transport links and accommodation.

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Qatar is relying heavily on workers from south Asia who are tied to the “kafala” system of sponsorship common in Gulf nations, which critics say exposes migrants to exploitation.

Qatar to set up desert tent camp to house World Cup fans

Sepp Blatter, FIFA
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) The committee organizing the 2022 World Cup in Qatar plans to try out a “fan village” that could house up to 2,000 soccer spectators in Arabian desert tents.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said Tuesday it is seeking bids to develop a pilot project near the Sealine Beach resort south of the capital, Doha.

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It will offer different types of accommodation in 350 temporary tents and 300 permanent tents, along with big viewing screens and other entertainment options. A total of five fan villages could eventually be built.

Qatar is racing to build hotels and other infrastructure needed to host the games. Visitor accommodation in Qatar is currently dominated by higher-end hotels in Doha.

Qatar World Cup head: Blatter US support should be looked at

Sepp Blatter, FIFA president
AP Photo/Michael Probst
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LONDON (AP) The head of the Qatar World Cup says Sepp Blatter’s support for the rival United States bid for the 2022 tournament should face more scrutiny.

Qatar’s FIFA backers have been criticized for seemingly ignoring the inspection report before voting for the Gulf nation in 2010.

But Hassan Al-Thawadi, secretary general of the Qatar organizing committee, says then-FIFA President Blatter “wanted the U.S. to win regardless of the merits of the bid, regardless of anything else … that needs to be looked at.”

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Addressing a London audience, Al-Thawadi added that “it’s just fascinating that nobody is raising any concerns about that (Blatter) and looking into that … but fair enough. I guess we will take the flak again.”

The U.S. bid has not been accused of impropriety. Qatar has also denied any wrongdoing.