Eight stadiums-all within a 30-mile radius of Doha-are now almost complete. After fending off neighbours’ hostility, corruption investigations, and concerns about worker abuse, the 2022 World Cup is preserved. Now, the clock on the Corniche in the capital of Qatar will be unveiled on Sunday to count down one year until the kick-off.
It is expected that there will be 12 months of pressure from human rights organizations-driven by player protests-and indignation from some World Cup organizers.
“Qatar has been treated unfairly and censored for many years,” Nasser Al Khater, chief executive of the organizing committee, said on Saturday.
However, since FIFA voted in December 2010 to begin a $200 billion upgrade of the country’s infrastructure, this review has improved the labor law under the pressure of criticism of working conditions.
“You put it in the context of the region,” Alcatel told reporters. “I think Qatar is now a trailblazer. It has carried out all reforms, whether it is worker standards, accommodation standards, or the introduction of minimum wages.”
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In some cases, the World Cup Organizing Committee has introduced changes before the entire country, but the enforcement of the laws and conditions faced by workers-especially in the hot summer-is still a concern for groups.
Qatar did not provide complete details and data on the deaths of migrant workers, especially migrant workers from South Asia, who rely on building infrastructure across the country. Amnesty International emphasized the need for more in-depth investigations into the cause of death, the lack of the right to form a trade union, and the need for all companies to comply with the new law that workers should be allowed to leave without their employer’s permission.
“There is criticism,” Al Khater said. “There is some work to be done. However, a lot of progress has been made, but unfortunately, reports such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have not recorded these progress.”
So far, 12 countries and the host Qatar have been qualified to participate in 32 teams. Denmark has stated that its training package in Qatar will contain important human rights information to ensure that the game is characterized by player activism.
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Construction work began to slow down.
“All eight stadiums for the World Cup have been completed,” Alcatel said.
Seven venues are now ready to host matches, and the 974 stadium is built using that number of containers and will open later this month in the FIFA Arab Cup as a World Cup test match.
A 40-minute drive north will take fans to the 80,000-seater Loscell Stadium, which will hold the final on December 18, 2022, but is not yet ready for the game. Also nearby is the Losell International Circuit. Defending Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton said before Sunday’s inaugural Qatar Grand Prix that the country still has “a long way to go” to ensure equality.
Hamilton wore a rainbow-colored helmet in Qatar to draw attention to anti-LGBTQ+ laws, and the World Cup organizers effectively hinted that it would not be executed during the game.
“Welcome everyone to Qatar and have a good time at the World Cup,” Alcatel said. “They can come here to enjoy their time without worrying about any kind of influence, which has no influence on people’s (sexual) orientation, religion, belief, race.”
Al Khater said that any couple can share a hotel room.
“I don’t know if this is a misunderstanding,” he said. “I don’t know where you know or where you got this. I mean, anyone can stay in a hotel freely, whether it’s with a friend or a partner.”
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The challenge for supporters is still to afford the trip. Although this is a World Cup that does not require a flight between the two games, the demand for accommodation in this small Gulf country may be great. What helps fans is to stay in neighboring countries, including the United Arab Emirates, because they lifted their economic, diplomatic and travel boycotts against Qatar since 2017 this year.
“The ultimate goal is to host a successful World Cup. Only when you have fans participating can you host a successful World Cup,” Alcatel said. “So we took this into consideration to ensure that there is sufficient accommodation and accommodations that fit all budgets.”
The fans will go to the World Cup a few months later than usual. The opening on November 21, 2022, and the final on December 18, are still controversial, because the major European leagues have finally determined the start date of a season. This is the first time that the World Cup has been severely disrupted.
Qatar is bidding for the World Cup in accordance with the regular schedule from June to July set by FIFA, but the schedule has changed and the decision will only be made after voting. The FIFA Executive Committee, which supported Qatar with a majority of votes, is now largely discredited, ignoring concerns about high temperatures.
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That vote has been shrouded in the shadow of corruption.
An investigation commissioned by FIFA highlighted that investigators were uncomfortable with Qatar’s method of winning the vote, but concluded that “there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by the bidding team”. However, American lawyer Michael Garcia did find that some of Qatar’s actions “may not meet the standards required by FIFA”.
Last year, when U.S. prosecutors revealed new details of alleged bribery paid by Qatar to vote, new allegations of misconduct surfaced. An indictment alleges that Nicolas Leoz, then chairman of the South American governing body CONMEBOL, and former Brazilian Federal President Ricardo Teixeira, accepted bribes to vote for Qatar.
“All these investigations show us that all the allegations in Qatar are correct,” Al Khater said when asked about the allegations made by the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. “So no matter what you mean, I categorically deny it.”