Qatar’s World Cup chief insists he has no fear of the 2022 tournament being removed from the Middle Eastern country despite several controversies swirling around the host nation.
Fifa’s executive committee will meet today for a possible initial decision on moving the tournament from the summer to avoid the extreme heat, and will also debate the findings of an investigation into the abuses of migrant workers in Qatar.
Meanwhile, Fifa’s ethics chief Michael Garcia has embarked on an investigation of all 2018 and 2022 bidders with France Football magazine this week suggesting one Fifa member had been involved in property deals linked to Qatar.
But Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, has no concerns about any retribution and likened the allegations to outlandish conspiracy theories.
Speaking after a Fifa spokesman had said there was “no doubt” that the 2022 World Cup will be in Qatar and that “the question is whether it will be in winter”, Al Thawadi said there had never been worries about losing the hosting rights.
He said: “Have we ever had any fears? No, because we are confident of our situation and we are confident of our position - simple.
“Did you hear what was said by FIFA? For us, we are always comfortable and confident that the World Cup will not move from Qatar. It’s a confirmation of what we have always said from the beginning.”
Asked about the France Football allegations, he added: “Read the story and realise I think, sooner or later at a point in time, I think what we’re going to see is a picture of the grassy knoll in the JFK assassination and instead of it being smoke they’re going to say it’s the Qatari headdress and it’s us.
“For us, we’ve always indicated we’ve adhered to every rule within FIFA, we actually went to great length - in many different situations - to ensure that we’re within the bidding rules and the bidding registration rules.”
In relation to the issue of migrant workers, after an investigation revealed dozens of Nepalese had died and there is apparent widespread ill treatment, Al Thawadi said it was an issue that was being tackled even before the 2010 World Cup vote and was being accelerated by being tournament hosts. He said: “When it comes to people dying it is not a media issue - it’s a humanitarian issue, in the end it’s human nature. Is it acceptable? Nobody accepts it. The statements from the government indicates that.
“This is not a World Cup being built on the blood of innocents. That is unacceptable to anybody and most definitely to ourselves.”
Al Thawadi said organisers had already been in touch with human rights groups for advice in ensuring companies who win the tenders for World Cup projects enshrined workers’ rights in their contracts.
He added: “In terms of the migrant workers - when it comes to World Cup 2022 in particular - we’ve established strategy, a charter. This is out in public, we have established a worker welfare committee.
“We are looking at provisions for our contractors and we are in dialogue with Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to look at not only the contracts but the mechanisms to enforce them.”
l Trade unionists showed a symbolic red card to Fifa as they protested outside the headquarters of football’s governing body yesterday over labour rights in Qatar, host nation for 2022 World Cup,
Around 100 protesters from Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) and the Swiss union Unia gathered at the front gates waving red cards as Fifa’s executive committee began a two-day meeting to discuss the tournament.
Fifa will debate whether, in principle, they should move the event from the June-July period, in the searing Qatari summer, as well as the situation of migrant workers who will be working on World Cup construction sites.
It was reported last week that dozens of Nepali workers had died on building sites in Qatar over the summer.