FRANKFURT: German federation president Wolfgang Niersbach wants FIFA to set a workers’ rights deadline if Qatar wants to maintain its World Cup hosting in 2022 writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Niersbach set out his utimatum concept in an interview with Der Spiegel. His words carried particular significancde because he is expected to replace Theo Zwanziger next May as Germany’s voice on the world federation’s executive committee.
European federation UEFA stages its own elections earlier in the spring for its delegates to FIFA and Niersbach, barring accidents, will be chosen to replace his predecessor as DFB president.
Zwanziger, though a critic of the World Cup award to Qatar, is considered as much less antagonistic towards FIFA president Sepp Blatter. Niersbach, instead, was one of the UEFA representatives who complained vociferously in Sao Paulo on the eve of the World Cup that Blatter was breaking his 2011 promise to step down next year.
In ramping up the pressure on both Blatter and Qatar, Niersbach said: “From the perspective of the DFB it would be in the interest of the Qatar issue to define a period at the end of which independent bodies such as Amnesty International and the International Trade Union Confederation could make a final assessment of the conditions for construction workers.”
Niersbach suggested that the end of 2015 might be an appropriate deadline. He did not say so but his intimation was that this would leave FIFA seven years in which to find a new host.
German league president Reinhard Rauball and Bundesliga ceo Christian Seifert have both raised strong objections in recent weeks to FIFA’s push to move the 2022 World Cup finals to a winter date to avoid playing in the searing summer temperatures in the Gulf.
Rauball raised the question of whether, in such circumstances, it was in the interests of German football to remain in FIFA.
Nierbach spoke up during a weekend which also brought further reports in The Sunday Times about the murky way in which the bidders to host the World Cups in 2018 and 2022 went about their business.
The newspaper claimed that the England bid compiled a ‘spy’ dossier of suspicion and innuendo about the activities of its rivals.
This dossier had been submitted to, and published by, the House of Commons media, culture and sports committee. This meant its allegations were protected from legal action by parliamentary privilege and – through this artifice – could thus be published by the newspaper.
Meanwhile Blatter carried on, apparently regardless.
He told Asian confederation delegates in Manila: “2022, it is Qatar, and ladies and gentleman, believe me, with all that has been said around the world by whom? Those not involved with what happens in football. The World Cup in 2022 will be played in Qatar.”
The rousing applause demonstrated that not all of the football world is as concerned as the UEFA family over the bid scandal and its investigation.