FIFA President Gianni Infantino has said that the 2022 World Cup will be hosted by Qatar as planned. He also announced a plan to create a new body to ensure decent working conditions at World Cup construction sites.
Infantino announced the creation of the still-unnamed body on Friday as he wrapped up his first trip to Qatar since being elected as FIFA's president almost two months ago.
Few details about the planned watchdog have been released, but a statement posted on FIFA's website said the new body was to be made up of representatives of the "relevant sectors of civil society and other relevant FIFA stakeholders to oversee all FIFA competitions."
The move comes after repeated criticism from human rights groups, including Amnesty International, about the conditions that migrants working on World Cup construction sites have been facing.
A report released by Amnesty just last month said that World Cup workers in Qatar have been suffering abuse and in some cases even been subjected to forced labor. The London-based organization pointed specifically to the Kalifa International Stadium, where it said workers, mainly from Bangladesh, India and Nepal, had been lied to about their salaries, gone unpaid for months, and were being housed in squalid conditions.
Speaking after a visit to the stadium and the workers' accommodation on Thursday, Infantino said Qatar's organizing committee, known as the "Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy" had made progress on improving working conditions.
"An encouraging example is the Supreme Committee's response to issues that have occurred, such as the ones raised by Amnesty International in its latest report, which were already tackled by the Supreme Committee prior to the release of the report," Infantino said. "This shows that the mechanisms in place related to FIFA World Cup construction are working, although challenges remain."
Asked by a reporter in Doha on Friday if the Gulf state would actually host the tournament despite all the allegations of labor abuse and corruption, Infantino said: "Of course, the World Cup will take place in Qatar in 2022."
pfd/jh (dpa, AFP)