Sepp Blatter washes hands of workers’ plight at 2022 Qatar World Cup

President’s response dismissed as ‘totally inadequate’ after he says Fifa cannot ‘change things’

Zurich

Sepp Blatter’s claim that Fifa cannot exert any direct influence to improve dire workers’ conditions in Qatar has been dismissed as “totally inadequate” and an “insult” by human rights organisations.

Blatter announced on Friday that he will pay a “courtesy” visit to Qatar to meet the Gulf state’s new Emir and accepted that football’s governing body cannot turn a blind eye to reports that 70 Nepalese workers have died on construction sites since the start of 2012 as Qatar begins the Herculean building task required for the 2022 World Cup finals.

But the Fifa president said his body could not “change things.” Blatter also said emphatically that the finals will take place in Qatar come what may, despite growing concerns over workers’ rights combined with confusion over the practicalities of when the tournament might be staged – a date is now unlikely to be agreed until 2015 – and the fact that an investigation requested by Fifa itself into allegations of corruption surrounding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 finals three years ago has only just begun.

“The workers’ rights will be the responsibility for Qatar and the companies – many of them European companies – who work there,” said Blatter. “It is not Fifa’s primary responsibility but we cannot turn a blind eye but it is not a direct intervention from Fifa that can change things.

“I will meet with the new Emir for a courtesy visit to confirm the World Cup 2022. We will also touch on this concern, the working conditions, but we are not the ones that can actually change it. It does concern us [but] this is not Fifa’s remit.”

It is a stance that dismayed the International Trade Union Confederation and Anti-Slavery International. The ITUC claim it first raised the issue with Fifa two years ago. It estimates 4,000 workers will die before the start of the 2022 World Cup if distinct action is not taken.

“The settlement of this global dispute is dependent on actions by Fifa and the political will of the Qatari authorities, which are still absent. Fifa’s offer is an insult to the bereaved families,” said Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the ITUC. Aidan McQuade of Anti-Slavery international tweeted: “Sepp Blatter’s leadership underwhelms again.”

The organisers of Qatar 2022 have written to Fifa outlining the action it claims they and the Qatari government are taking. Qatar 2022 have drawn up a workers’ charter that all contractors will be required to follow.

The thorny question of when the finals will be played also remains mired in confusion. There will be no decision on whether it will be a winter World Cup until probably 2015. Friday’s meeting of the Executive Committee decided on an extended period of consultation conducted by a working group co-ordinated by Jerome Valcke, Fifa’s chief executive. The committee will be “loosely overseen” by Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa, the controversial Bahraini who is president of the Asian Football Confederation.

The make-up of the working group and how it will be conducted is unclear. Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, is likely to be part of it, while there may also be a role for Alex Horne, the Football Association’s general secretary. A move from summer will be the outcome, although the Qataris now favour a switch to April/May rather than the envisaged winter tournament. That is emerging as an increasingly credible option, even though temperatures would still be in the mid-30C. It would allow the leagues to squeeze rather than interrupt their seasons.

“We have decided we are going to carry out consultations with all the partners involved,” said Blatter as three years on from the vote and after extensive meetings little has become clearer. “We have to carry out very deep consultations. We have to display diplomacy and wisdom. [The working group] will have to set up a road map. In December they will present [the Ex-co] not a solution but a road map that will explain where we are heading with this consultation.”

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum