A dozen years of defending Qatar’s suitability to host the World Cup can go away Hassan Al-Thawadi exasperated on the enduring glare of scrutiny and the accusatory, relatively than celebratory, tone.
At instances, Al-Thawadi can appear to be the face — even chief — of this Persian Gulf nation given his prominence. As head of the bid, and now normal secretary of the organizing committee, Al-Thawadi has rights teams, protesting soccer federations and followers worldwide to reply to.
The responses don’t at all times placate these aghast on the struggling of migrant employees whose low-paid labor was relied on to construct not solely stadiums but in addition Qatar’s wider infrastructure that’s past Al-Thawadi’s direct remit.
But it’s the modifications to working situations and rights within the nation that Al-Thawadi is making an attempt to intensify on the eve of the World Cup draw when the finalists uncover who and the place they are going to be taking part in in November.
“Human suffering is a tragedy. Simple as that,” Al-Thawadi mentioned in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday. “We recognized from day one from before we bid to host the World Cup, that things had to change. This is not something that dawned upon us as a result of the World Cup.”
And but modifications to labor legal guidelines weren’t a part of the general public Qatar bid. They solely got here in recent times relatively than earlier than development began on the eight new stadiums required after the 2010 vote as soon as teams, together with Amnesty International, utilized stress.
A flag selling World Cup soccer waves on a lamp put up in West Bay space in Doha, Qatar. (AP Photo)
“We knew that this World Cup will be an accelerant,” he mentioned, “and will assist the government in terms of making that change.”
They embody the introduction of a minimal wage and the dismantling of the “kafala” sponsorship system binding employees to their employer. Enforcement throughout Qatar is the problem, particularly as investigators hone in on development websites away from the eight World Cup stadiums which can be full.
Al-Thawadi sees Qatar as setting the “benchmark” — notably with extra restrictive working practices enduring elsewhere within the Gulf — and pointing to how a number of the “most ardent of critics” are actually working with them.
“Nobody accepts any sort of suffering, and we are doing our bit to ensure that this doesn’t occur,” he mentioned. “I’m working very diligently and we’re very committed that this progress that has been done over the last 12 years will continue after 2022 and will remain.”
But Al-Thawadi went from the interview to the FIFA Congress the place Norwegian soccer federation president Lise Klaveness known as out the freedoms and security denied to employees and the dearth of LGBTQ+ protections in Qatar.
Al-Thawadi was riled, claiming in response that Klaveness had not tried to contact him. It is an indication of how vexed Al-Thawadi could be having to proceed justifying Qatar because the Middle East’s first World Cup host.
“The World Cup is an opportunity for everybody to come and get to understand different people of different backgrounds with different values,” Al-Thawadi mentioned. “We don’t essentially at all times … agree on the whole lot … however that in itself needs to be revered and accepted.
“What we say is what we’re offering them, providing a safe World Cup, a welcoming World Cup for everybody. And this is the opportunity for everybody to sit down and build relations.”
Al-Thawadi is hoping individuals will pay attention, even when the solutions or Qatari legal guidelines don’t fulfill them.
“People are very quick to pass judgment,” he mentioned. “Very quick and very firm in their judgment with that, whether they have the full information or not.”