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Qatar 2022: Amid ongoing human rights concerns, World Cup chief promises host nation is ‘tolerant’ and ‘welcoming’



Nasser Al Khater, the chief govt of the match’s organizing committee, insists that Qatar has been handled “unfairly and unjustly” because it earned the best to host the match 11 years in the past.

In response to Cavallo’s fears, Al Khater mentioned: “On the contrary, we welcome him here in the state of Qatar, we welcome him to come and see even prior to the World Cup … Nobody feels threatened here, nobody feels unsafe.”

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He added: “The notion that people don’t feel safe here is untrue. I’ve said this before and I say this to you again, everybody is welcome here. Everybody is welcome here and everybody will feel safe here. Qatar is a tolerant country. It’s a welcoming country. It’s a hospitable country.”

Al Khater stands in Doha's Khalifa International Stadium in 2017.
In October, Welsh soccer fan James Brinning instructed CNN Sport that he “wouldn’t feel safe” touring to Qatar if Wales certified for the World Cup as a consequence of his sexuality.

“That’s really upsetting to think about because I should be able to be a part of such a huge moment in Welsh football history if it happens,” he mentioned.

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This is not the primary time that anti-LGBTQ legal guidelines have been a priority round a serious soccer match.

In June, European soccer governing physique UEFA declined a request to mild up Munich’s Allianz Arena in rainbow colours for the Euro 2020 match between Germany and Hungary following an anti-LGBTQ regulation handed by Hungary’s parliament.
Then forward of the 2018 World Cup, the UK Foreign Office warned forward of the match that members of the LGBTQ group face “significant risk” in touring to Russia.
And soccer is not the one sporting group to lift considerations about Qatar’s anti-homosexuality legal guidelines. Ahead of Formula One’s Qatar Grand Prix on November 21, Lewis Hamilton, who would go on to win the race, was extensively praised for sporting a helmet that includes the Pride Progress Flag — a redesigned and more inclusive model of the standard rainbow flag — which was emblazoned with the phrases “We Stand Together.”
A clock in Doha counts down the days until the start of the World Cup.

Al Khater acknowledged that Qatar does have a stricter method in direction of public shows of affection in comparison with different international locations, and when pressed by CNN on the nation’s legal guidelines, Al Khater declined to say that homosexuality is unlawful, saying solely that “like many countries,” same-sex marriage is unlawful in Qatar.

“In different countries, there is more leniency to public displays of affection,” he mentioned.

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“Qatar and the region are a lot more modest, and Qatar and the region are a lot more conservative. And this is what we ask fans to respect. And we’re sure that fans will respect that … We respect different cultures and we expect other cultures to respect ours.”

Over the previous decade, Qatar has additionally been beneath stress concerning its remedy of migrant staff concerned in setting up World Cup stadiums, with the International Labour Organization (ILO) not too long ago saying that the state is inadequately investigating and reporting office deaths.

Earlier this yr, Barun Ghimire, a human rights lawyer primarily based in Kathmandu whose work focuses on the exploitation of Nepalese migrants working overseas, instructed CNN that the plight of Nepalese labor staff is “particularly grievous in the Gulf.”

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“Migrant workers from the poorest of countries go to Qatar seeking employment,” he mentioned, including: “The Qatar World Cup is really the bloody cup — the blood of migrant workers.”

Ghimire burdened, although, that blame should not solely be laid on Qatar. He mentioned that the Nepalese authorities and different international locations must also be held accountable for not offering staff with correct safety of their vacation spot international locations.

In a report launched this month, the ILO mentioned that at the least 50 of Qatar’s staff died in 2020 as gaps in information assortment by the nation’s establishments impeded the group from presenting a categorical determine on the variety of deadly occupational accidents.

READ: Norwegian broadcaster slams remedy of its journalists reporting on World Cup however Qatar says they had been trespassing illegally

In a press release, Qatar’s Ministry of Labour mentioned that “figures reported in media on migrant worker fatalities have been wildly misleading,” whereas Al Khater additionally refuted that there are gaps in Qatar’s reporting of working deaths.

“Our work sites are clear … They have contractors, they have worker welfare teams on site,” he mentioned. “If there was a fatality, everybody would know about it. It’s not something you can hide.”

The Guardian reported earlier this yr that 6,500 migrant staff have died within the nation since Qatar gained its bid to host the World Cup in 2010, most of whom had been concerned in low-wage, harmful labor, usually undertaken in excessive warmth.

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The report, which CNN has not independently verified, didn’t join all 6,500 deaths with World Cup infrastructure initiatives.

Al Khater reiterated that he refutes the accuracy of the report, saying: “I categorically deny The Guardian statements.”

He added: “This is something that needs to be made absolutely clear. Absolutely clear. The number of fatalities on World Cup stadiums that are related to work are three fatalities. There is just over 30 fatalities that are non-work-related.”

READ: FIFA President Gianni Infantino sees ‘nice evolution’ in Qatar amidst employee loss of life stories

The previous few years have seen Qatar implement insurance policies to reform its labor construction.

The state’s sponsorship system, referred to as the kafala, was dismantled final yr, partly permitting migrant staff to vary jobs earlier than the tip of their contracts with out requiring consent from their employers.

Qatar has additionally launched a non-discriminatory minimal wage of $275 monthly that applies to each migrant labor staff in addition to home staff — a coverage it claims is the primary of its type within the area.

“The progress that’s been made over the 10 previous years by the state of Qatar are not comparable to any progress that’s been made anywhere around the world in such a short time frame,” mentioned Al Khater.

“Enacting legislation usually takes a very long time. It has been put through very quickly in the state of Qatar. They’ve been put on fast track to make sure that they’re implemented.”

Plenty of nationwide groups, together with Denmark, Germany and Norway, have already spotlighted human rights points forward of the World Cup.

Denmark is the most recent to take action after saying that two equipment sponsors will hand over branding area on the gamers’ coaching equipment instead of messages highlighting human rights points in Qatar. The nation’s soccer union has additionally mentioned that it’s going to decrease the variety of journeys to Qatar to keep away from selling occasions across the World Cup.

Player protests are prone to proceed within the buildup to — and throughout — subsequent yr’s match, which Al Khater mentioned organizers won’t cease from happening.

“Are we worried about it? No, I wouldn’t say we’re worried about it,” mentioned Al Khater.

“But I feel there is a accountability on these gamers and there is a accountability on these federations to ensure that when individuals are taking positions, they’re taking place which can be correct and replicate actuality.

“Because regardless of what people feel are facts, people also need to recognize progress, they need to recognize the responsibility that the state of Qatar has taken on its shoulder to progress, to enact laws, to protect worker’s rights, their welfare.”

Tuesday marks the beginning of the Arab Cup involving 16 groups from throughout the area. It may even see two World Cup venues — Al Bayt Stadium and Ras Abu Aboud Stadium — inaugurated on the match’s opening day.

For the Qatar 2022 organizing committee, it supplies an opportunity to trial a few of the World Cup venues upfront of subsequent yr’s competitors.

“It’s going to be a big test and it’s going to be a very useful test,” says Al Khater.

Next yr’s match, nonetheless, shall be on a distinct scale to the Arab Cup, with more groups, more followers and more eyes watching world wide.

In the meantime, 13 international locations have now certified for the match because the protracted countdown for Qatar 2022 rolls on.


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