Qatari foreign minister promises “best World Cup” ever, says human rights changes will come


Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah says Qatar’s 2022 World Cup will be the best-hosted edition in tournament history, and thinks race is playing a role in the backlash against his nation.

[ MORE: All of PST’s season previews ]

Al-Attiyah is the minister of foreign affairs for Qatar, a position similar to the United States’ Secretary of State. While admitting the country has work to do in protecting migrant workers — they’ve been accused of modern slavery — he says Qatar is getting a bum rap.

And he promises that those human rights fixes are coming, really.

From the Associated Press:

“Some parties cannot digest that a small, Arabic state … is hosting such an event, as if our region, our Arab region is not entitled to have such an event,” he said.

Promised reforms to the country’s restrictive labor laws, which bind workers to a given employer and which rights groups say leave workers open to abuse, have yet to be implemented.

Al-Attiyah said he expected the new guidelines will be put in place by the end of the year.

“It is on the right track, and it will happen. We are serious about doing reforms,” he said.

So serious they haven’t done them at all. Granted the “end of the year” promise could be the real deal, but the nation has certainly taken its time.

In 2013, reports circulated that 90 percent of foreign workers in Qatar have their passports held by employers. Those reports have continued in the interim, and that’s why promised fixes mean nothing until they are implemented and enforced in the small nation.

Qatar has already benefited in massive ways from the awarding of the tournament, with its population at an all-time high due to temporary workers.

Any sort of fixes are hard to believe, not because of the race of the Qatari people, but because when people with loads of dough are making loads more dough by utlize people as something close to slaves, they tend to avoid making changes.