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FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

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The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.

CAS cuts FIFA ban of World Cup bids inspector

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The Court of Arbitration for Sport has cleared former 2018-2022 World Cup bids inspector Harold Mayne-Nicholls to return to football duty.

CAS says its panel cut the Chilean official’s three-year ban by FIFA to two years on appeal for a conflict of interest in seeking unpaid intern work in Qatar for relatives.

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Mayne-Nicholls’s ban has expired because it started on July 3, 2015.

The court overturned a charge of unethically accepting benefits, saying two years is the “appropriate and proportionate penalty.”

In 2010, FIFA appointed Mayne-Nicholls, then president of Chile’s soccer federation, to lead a six-member team evaluating the nine World Cup bid candidates. Qatar won the 2022 contest.

Mayne-Nicholls was a potential FIFA presidential election contender when his ethics case was opened in 2014.

Egyptian coach suspended as row over Qatar reaches soccer

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The diplomatic row over Qatar has reached soccer.

An Egyptian coach was suspended on Thursday for refusing to give interviews to a Qatar-based television network and attempting to boycott a news conference where the network’s journalists were present. After finally giving in and agreeing to attend the news conference, the coach covered the station’s microphone with his hand to try and block the recording, the Confederation of African Football said when announcing his punishment.

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Hossam el-Badry, coach of Egyptian club Al Ahly and a former Egypt international, was fined $10,000 by CAF and suspended for one game for the snubs aimed at the Qatar-based beIN Sports network following two games in the African Champions League.

Egypt was one of four countries alongside Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to sever ties with Qatar last month, accusing it of supporting extremist groups and funding terrorism.

Qatar, which will host soccer’s World Cup in 2022, denies the allegations.

The beIN sports channels are owned by Al Jazeera, Qatar’s flagship television network and a factor in the diplomatic standoff. The four anti-Qatar countries want, among other things, Al Jazeera to be shut down.

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The African soccer body said el-Badry initially refused to attend a news conference following Al Ahly’s 2-0 loss to Moroccan club Wydad Casablanca on June 20 because of the presence of beIN sports journalists. He did eventually attend, but either put his hand over the beIN microphone while he spoke or pushed the microphone away, CAF said.

Following a game in Egypt last weekend against Cameroon’s Coton Sport, el-Badry and Al Ahly players refused all interviews with beIN. The players also boycotted the news conference.

El-Badry’s one-game ban was put on hold, provided he was not found guilty of a similar offense during the remainder of the African Champions League, CAF said. Al Ahly has qualified for the quarterfinals.

Report: German publication has full FIFA corruption report

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The unedited 2014 report into World Cup bidding published by Michael Garcia has been ‘leaked’ into the press by German publication Bild.

FIFA had released a 42-page version of the report that claimed to clear corruption allegations against Qatar. This “suppressed” report is over 400 pages.

Garcia quit his job as investigator with the FIFA ethics committee in 2014, saying he believed progress in reforming FIFA had slowed considerably.

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Bild said it will publish more information and the full report on Tuesday, but the BBC notes a couple interesting facets of the initial release:

  • “Three Fifa executive members were flown to a party in Rio in a private jet belonging to the Qatari federation before the vote for 2018 and 2022 hosting rights.”
  • “Bild’s report includes details of a $2m (£1.6m) sum allegedly paid to the 10-year-old daughter of a Fifa official.”

Before you overreact, the 10-year-old is an incredibly gifted footballer.

The reporter who filed the story says the report shows no proof of a bought bid, but that it is like “a puzzle.”

Qatar stadium safety concerns again raised by death investigation

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An investigation into why a British man fell to his death on a building site for the 2022 Qatar soccer World Cup has raised concerns about stadium roof safety.

World Cup organizers on Thursday released partial findings of an assessment of the accident at the Khalifa International Stadium, but said the full report cannot be released while local authorities continue their own investigation. It is one of two work-related deaths detailed in Qatar’s latest welfare report on preparations for the 2022 soccer tournament, which currently involves 12,367 workers on eight construction sites.

The 40-year-old British man fell 39 meters in January after one end of the roof catwalk he was installing dropped and a safety rope snapped.

“During the course of the investigation, the team had raised concerns with the method of installation of the raised catwalk system,” the welfare report from Qatar’s World Cup organizers stated. “This required further investigation regarding the method itself and the supervision skills of the specialist contractor staff.”

It has led to “corrective and preventative actions” being implemented by the contractor, a joint venture between Belgian and Qatari firms, along with safety checks across all stadium sites, the report said.

“These included a review of all working-at-height activities across all SC projects, an enhanced process when reviewing specialist activities within construction sites, and a detailed review of all roof and gantry designs,” the Supreme Committee overseeing stadium projects added.

The British man is the only European working on Qatar stadiums to have died in a country relying on a low-paid migrant workforce from south Asia to prepare for the first World Cup in the Middle East. Six non-work related deaths have been announced by organizers, with most suffering from heart or breathing problems.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the supreme committee’s secretary general, said medical staff are trying to raise awareness of the “importance of healthy lifestyles” by evaluating diets and identifying health issues, including hypertension and diabetes. Cooling helmets have also been developed in an attempt to make it safer for workers on outdoor sites during the searing summer heat.

World Cup preparations have been dogged by concerns about the welfare of workers since the natural gas-rich Gulf nation won the FIFA vote in 2010. Mounting international pressure led to Qatar raising living standards and worker rights. Inspections led to three contractors being blacklisted and 14 entities “demobilized” from projects for failing to tackle welfare issues, the World Cup report reveals.

“There is still work to be done to ensure our workers’ welfare standards continue to have a tangible impact on the ground and we are comprehensive in our attempts to tackle the myriad of issues facing migrant workers across the SC program,” Khalid Al-Kubaisi, who oversees worker welfare at the Supreme Committee, said in a statement.

The report has been released as Qatar is gripped by a diplomatic crisis that has seen it isolated in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar earlier this month and blocked air, sea and land traffic over its support for Islamist groups and ties with Iran. Qatar denies the charges and says the allegations are politically motivated.