Qatar is spending around 10 billion on new stadiums and up to 200 billion on improving infrastructure ahead of the 2022 World Cup.That would make it the most expensive tournament ever.In a speech at London's Chatham House Thursday, the head of the Organizing Committee, Hassan Al-Thawadi, said the cost would be worthwhile.
“The passion for football that runs through the veins of our society.And the desire to demonstrate to the rest of the world that our region could be, and deserves to be, in the headlines for reasons other than conflict and strife.”
The scandals that have engulfed football's World governing body FIFA led to the resignation and prosecution of many of the officials who voted for Qatar's bid.FIFA appointed American lawyer Michael Garcia to investigate.He pointed what he called serious and wide-ranging issues with the bidding and selection process, before quitting in protest at FIFA's handling of his report in 2014.A summary of the investigation led by a German judge largely cleared Qatar of any wrongdoing.
“We stuck to the rules, and more importantly when the investigation happened with Michael Garcia after the bid, we cooperated fully out of a sense of vindication and out of a sense of confidence at the cleanliness of our bid.”
Human rights groups have repeatedly accused Qatar of abusing the rights of the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers building the World Cup venues.Qatar's so-called kafala or sponsorship system ties the legal status of migrant workers to their employer.Al-Thawadi insisted the government is committed to reforming workers' rights.
“Of most importance is the new law that was signed by His Highness the Emir in October 2015,abolishing the kafala system and replacing it with a contractual agreement between employer and employee.”
Amnesty International's James Lynch, said the assurances were not convincing.
“I think where we disagree is about the speed of reform.You know, he says that the new sponsorship law reform is a really big deal that will change the lives of workers.We are much more skeptical about that; we think that it is the kafala system in all but name, and it is adjusted rather than really reformed.”
Human rights groups are calling for an investigation into the high number of heart attacks among some migrant workers-which they believe could be related to the extreme heat.