KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Gianni Infantino repeated his insistence, to the annual congress of UEFA, on the value of progress over human and workers’ rights ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.

The president of world federation FIFA took up his role six years after the award to the Gulf state of the finals being played in November and December this year.

This meant he also took up the responsibility of combating the weight of criticism and concern which has continued to swirl around the first World Cup to be staged in the northern hemisphere winter.

Infantino, addressing UEFA and its member associations in Vienna said: “It is important to underline the progress which has been made in terms of workers rights and human rights with the abolition of kafala and implementation of measures to protect health.

“It is not me or Qater saying it but international labour unions and other bodies. This progress is undeniable. It is excellent. It is going in the right direction.

“Of course everything is not perfect. Every country is probably the same. I can assure you that we are there, I am personally there, calling on and appealing to the authorities to ensure the government has not only have implemented this new legislation but effectively and efficiently enforces it.

“This is to make sure that those workers who have not been paid, who have suffered, will be adequately compensated. We are all watching to try to make sure that the legacy of the World Cup will stay for ever.”

Infantino also repeated his regular appeal for an end to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

He said: “Football cannot solve all the problems in this world. Football cannot solve war but it can contribute by repeating with force our plea to those who have some sort of decision-making power to work tirelessly and make all efforts possible for peace to be restored in Ukraine.

“Our thoughts are with the victims, those who suffer, also those who suffer generally from the pandemic. When peace will come football will be at the forefront to bring about unity – because that’s what football does.”