Fifa officials will meet today to discuss the increasingly controversial situation regarding the 2022 Qatar World Cup, after revelations over the exploitation and death of Nepalese worker constructing the stadiums added to the debate over a switch to a winter schedule.
As explained by Robin Scott-Elliot in The Independent, the 27-strong executive committee will meet to discuss whether the tournament, which has always been held in the summer, should be moved to deal with the searing 42-degree-plus heat that is experienced in the Qatari summer.
But with Qatar the word dominating the football headlines in the last few days, the tournament will not be the first thing on the agenda. Rather, it will be the last, with this summer’s Fifa Under-20 World Cup in Turkey set to start proceedings with vice-president Jim Boyce giving a report on the tournament which was held in June and July this year.
There will also be a report by the chairman Marco Polo Del Nero on the Beach Soccer World Cup, which took place in Tahiti last week where Russia beat Spain 5-1 in the final.
Following the reports, updates will be given on the preparations for the Under-17 World Cup which will begin later this month in the United Arab Emirates, before moving onto the reports for the upcoming Fifa Club World Cup and the Under-17’s Women’s World Cup, which will take place in Costa Rica next year.
Only then will matters turn towards the World Cup, with a review of the Confederations Cup – held in Brazil as part of preparations for next summer’s showcase tournament – leading into an update on the next three tournaments. The competitions section will be wrapped up with the latest on the 2018 tournament in Russia and the headline update on Qatar, where officials are likely to agree that a winter schedule is a necessity for the World Cup to go ahead in the Arab state, although confirmation is not expected just yet.
Instead, they are more likely to announce a period of consultation with stakeholders before a final decision is made. One thing that is for sure is that the whole situation is a mess, and has been since before Qatar was awarded the tournament.
Claims this week from sports minister Hugh Robertson suggests that the United Kingdom’s bid may have been purposely foiled by Blatter in response to comments made about Fifa in the British media, while the exposure of the conditions that construction workers are experiencing will be addressed.
“When it comes to people dying it is not a media issue – it’s a humanitarian issue,” said Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary general of the Qatar 2022 supreme committee, on Thursday. “Is it acceptable? Nobody accepts it. The statements from the government indicate the World Cup is being built on the blood of innocents. That is unacceptable to anybody and most definitely to ourselves.”
Yet that did not stop a protest from the Swiss trade union in Zurich over the treatment of the migrant workers, with a 100-strong mix of Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) and the Swiss union Unia joining forces to wave red cards towards Fifa, in recognition of the abysmal working conditions in Qatar at present.
Fifa acknowledged the protestors, but they have stressed that they will act to fix the situation and Thawadi’s words presents their recognition that the deaths cannot go on.