ZURICH: FIFA is starting to lose patience with the Qatar’s government’s tardy response to concerns over workers’ rights in the Gulf state which will host the 2022 World Cup finals writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
This has become clear both from executive committee heavyweight Theo Zwanziger and from sources close to the former German federation president who is leading the world federation’s ‘Qatar action’ process.
Zwanziger’s summary after this week’s exco meeting contrasted starkly with the pacifying messages emanating locally in the Middle East from Asian confederation president Sheikh bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa from Bahrain.
He said: “We are getting regular letters and reports on what they are doing and what action they have started and we will do our part. In the next fortnight there will be visits by political institutions in Qatar and I have told them we want honest reports.
“Only with clean and clear facts can you continue with the talks.”
Zwanziger said that FIFA president Sepp Blatter would also visit Qatar in the coming months “because we must get a clear picture in Qatar itself and on this basis we will have further talks . . . to improve the human rights situation in that country.
“This is the path we will follow in the hope that we will reach an improvement in the situation.”
Some of Zwanziger’s exco colleagues want FIFA to take a firmer stand over action needed to resolve workers’ rights issues across the board and believe that the Qatari authorities would be unable to resist such pressure.
However the inability of the exco to speak with one voice was illustrated when Blatter noted that the exco had not been unanimous in approving Zwanziger’s report because “one or two are not entirely in agreement with his proposal.”
Blatter, apparently perched among the exco doves rather than the hawks, said that the major construction companies shared – along with FIFA and the state of Qatar – “responsibility for the workers.”