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Qatar ‘singled out’ for World Cup criticism – committee chief

Al-Thawadi: No evidence of wrongdoing in Qatar’s bid to host event

PHOTO: Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy. Credit: SC

Qatar has been “singled out” for criticism over hosting the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022, the head of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) said on Monday.

In an interview published on the SC website, Hassan Al-Thawadi, secretary-general of the committee, staunchly defended Qatar’s bid to host the mega-event, saying there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

“We always expected criticism. There isn’t a single major sporting event in the world that doesn’t go through that journey, but I think ours has been particularly intense,” he said.

“We became the victim of a campaign that singled out Qatar and our successful bid without any shred of evidence. We’ve had to live with that for five years but there has still been no evidence to suggest our Bid Committee did anything wrong.”

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Qatar does not expect to lose the right to host the World Cup, Al-Thawadi said, despite an ongoing probe into the 2022 bidding process, which is looking into corruption allegations against top FIFA officials.

Al-Thawadi also strongly denied allegations that 1,200 migrant workers had died in Qatar since the country was awarded the World Cup. “In more than 14 million man hours worked the SC has not experienced one single fatality on site.”

Qatar has come under much international scrutiny over working conditions for migrant labourers employed in building stadiums and infrastructure.

“No one in Qatar denies these challenges exist,” Al-Thawadi said, noting that Qatar’s recent announcement of labour reforms, such as the wage protection system, indicates a determination to use the 2022 World Cup as “a catalyst for social progress.”

“These reforms may not be coming quick enough for some people but our focus is on sustainable change. There will inevitably be a lot of noise surrounding the way those changes are implemented, but Qatar is committed to progressing.”

READ MORE: Qatar labour abuses still ‘rampant’ – Amnesty
READ MORE: Qatar wage protection system ‘to benefit construction workers’
READ MORE: Blatter calls on Qatar to improve World Cup labour conditions

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