KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Workers’ welfare as well as 2022 World Cup preparations were top of the agenda for president Gianni Infantino on his first visit to Qatar since being elected in February.

Infantino flew on to Doha after a visit to 2018 host Russia and met the Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani and Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani. During his visit he announced the creation of an oversight body with independent members to monitor systems in place to ensure decent working conditions at World Cup stadia.

Khalifa stadium Site visit for Gianni Infantino (centre)

Later Infantino said: “We had a very open and positive discussion on the 2022 FIFA World Cup and a wide range of topics.

“I told the Prime Minister the measures taken so far by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy to ensure fair working conditions on World Cup construction sites are going in the right direction.

“However, I made it very clear that it is essential for the Qatari authorities to ensure that the country complies to international standards on the treatment of workforce and to continue at full pace with the implementation of the promised measures.

Benchmark chance

“The hosting of the FIFA World Cup is an opportunity to set a benchmark in terms of sustainable and fair conditions for all workers in Qatar.

“I was pleased to see the personal commitment of the Prime Minister not only to the 2022 FIFA World Cup but also to treat with the utmost importance the issues of workers’ standards so as to guarantee their rights in full. FIFA and I will take the Qatari authorities at their word and I look forward to the concrete actions which will be the real testament of will.”

On Thursday, the FIFA President visited the construction site of the Khalifa International Stadium and the accommodation facilities at the so-called ‘Asian City.’

He also received a comprehensive updated on the various aspects of preparations from Supreme Committee for secretary-general Hassan Al Thawadi and Qatar Football Association president Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmad Al Thani.

Afterwards Infantino said: “It was important for me to personally get an impression of the preparations from a different perspective.

“I can see the hard work being done by the Supreme Committee. It is right that the FIFA World Cup is not just about organising the game’s premier event but also about achieving positive and sustainable change.”

Infantino said that the Qataris had taken on board “issues that have occurred, such as the ones raised by Amnesty International in its latest report.”

The new oversight panel would “validate the quality and effectiveness of the due diligence processes in place, analyse the findings of the independent auditing system, the remediation measures taken by the Supreme Committee to address any issues and report about findings, recommendations and progress, with the aim of increasing transparency around this important topic.”

Al Thawadi promised: “Qatar will meet all FIFA’s requirements in terms of stadiums and infrastructure well in advance of the tournament. Crucially, we are also firmly committed to leaving a lasting social legacy after the tournament – including in the area of workers’ welfare, where we continue to make progress.”