Qatar hails Putin and Russia’s support in hosting World Cup

The Emir of Qatar thanked Vladimir Putin on Thursday for what he described as Russia’s support for the organization of the next World Cup.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani also praised Russia’s hosting of the football tournament in 2018.

« After Russia achieved great success in hosting the 2018 World Cup, Russian friends gave great support to Qatar, especially in terms of organization, with the World Cup Organizing Committee 2022,” the emir said. « We thank you for that and we are proud of this relationship. It will continue until the end of the World Cup. I am very happy to see you, Mr President. Thank you. »

The Russian president wished Qatar every success in organizing this year’s event, which begins on November 20.

« We are also doing everything we can to transfer the experience of preparing for the World Cup, you know, we just had the opportunity to talk about it with you, » Putin said. “I wish you every success in holding this major event. I am sure it will be [a success]. »

Neither leader elaborated on how Russia helped Qatar, the first Arab country to host the World Cup.

One area where Qatar has followed Russia’s lead is requiring fans to register for a mandatory piece of identification, known as a Hayya card. Like the Fan ID system introduced by Russia in 2018, fans use digital Hayya cards to enter the country and can only enter a World Cup stadium if they present a card.

Russia reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup as hosts in 2018 but are not playing in Qatar after being left out of the qualifying rounds following their invasion of Ukraine.

FIFA opens workers’ compensation fund

FIFA wants to help workers in Qatar get compensation for injuries while building World Cup projects, one of the football body’s top officials told European lawmakers on Thursday.

Football associations in Europe have backed calls for a fund since Amnesty International said FIFA should contribute US$440 million towards reparations, which is the total price FIFA will pay to the 32 teams national teams playing in Qatar next month.

Qatar has come under scrutiny over the physical and contractual conditions of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers needed in the tiny emirate since winning World Cup hosting rights 12 years ago.

Pay is « certainly something we want to advance », FIFA Deputy General Secretary Alasdair Bell told a Council of Europe session on labor rights in Qatar.

“It is important to try to ensure that anyone who has suffered an injury as a result of their participation in the World Cup is repaired in one way or another,” Bell told the group of lawmakers. 46 nations at their meeting in Strasbourg, France.

FIFA was urged on Thursday to use its leverage with the World Cup host country by the official who publicly criticized Qatar when world football leaders met in Doha this year.

Securing compensation payments should be a key goal for FIFA to ensure a positive legacy in Qatar after the World Cup, Football Federation of Norway president Lise Klaveness has told lawmakers.

« It is difficult to frame it but it is necessary, also for historical abuses, injuries and deaths, » she said, adding that the lack of independent investigations into unexplained worker deaths in Qatar was an « elephant in the room ».

FIFA’s Bell agreed with Klaveness that a reparations fund « isn’t the easiest thing to set up » and would require clear rules and oversight.

« But it’s definitely something we want to advance, » he said.

General view of construction work at Lusail Stadium in Doha, Qatar, in a 2019 file photo. (Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Need for lasting change

It was unclear on Thursday whether the compensation should come from FIFA, the Qatari authorities or the construction companies that employed the workers, many of whom were from South Asia and the Philippines.

Qatar has set up a worker support fund that since 2020 has paid $164 million in compensation to more than 36,000 workers from 17 different countries, Human Rights Watch said in August citing government data.

Qatari authorities and World Cup organizers were also praised in Strasbourg for passing labor law reforms, including a minimum wage.

« It’s not just fluff, it’s real, and it brings tangible benefits that have actually improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, » Bell said.

« The risk, » he acknowledged, « is that once the spotlight is turned off after the World Cup, it’s really important that these changes stick around and be built on and hopefully even spread across the Middle -East. »

Bell said it was also important for migrant workers to have access to a « safe haven » in Qatar to know their legal rights – a project supported by global soccer players’ union FIFPRO which Klaveness also highlighted.

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