Taking an (im)moral stance: Qatar refuses to set deadline for improving workers' conditions
Qatar 2022 general secretary Hassan Al Thawadi has refused to set a deadline for the country to improve the rights of its migrant workers.
“I don’t think you can set any timeline because it depends on each different nation and the level they are in,” he said at the Doha GOALS conference.
“But, from December 2nd 2010, Qatar 2022 has been committed towards workers welfare and we have always indicated very clearly that the initiatives we are undertaking are a continuation of the initiatives the government is taking and governmental and non-governmental agencies are taking.”
Al Thawadi had previously gone on record to admit that Qatar’s kafala employment system, which gives minimal rights to workers, needs to be amended. But he said that the criticisms against the Gulf state on hosting the mega event have been excessive.
“Yes, the focus is on Qatar nine years ahead, and it is much more intense and in certain areas much more vicious.
“But any other nation that has hosted a major tournament has faced the same kind of criticism, the same kind of doubts and scepticism, including London 2012,” he said.
Qatar sparked fury across the world after an Amnesty report, released last month, stated that the workers were “treated like cattle”.
The Gulf state was also reprimanded by FIFA chief Sepp Blatter earlier this week as he asked Qatari companies to take responsibility of its workers ahead of the World Cup.
“The operating companies in Qatar have to assume responsibilities for their workers,” Blatter said during a meeting of the football governing body in Brazil.
“Now we need to make sure that the pleas of the unions will be implemented.”
Qatar has also been told by the world players’ union FIFPro to abolish the controversial kafala system for footballers and respect international standards for their contracts.
The 2022 World Cup host nation was told that it was essential to allow the establishment of a local players’ union.
“FIFPro has the attention of Qatar’s leading football officials,” said FIFPro delegate Mads Oland after meeting Al Thawadi in Doha on Saturday.
“FIFPro, as the representative of all professional footballers worldwide, will be heard loud and clear.”
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