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Qatar, FIFA publish World Cup rights pledges

Qatar has faced scrutiny over its rights record ahead of hosting the 2022 Football World Cup © AFP/File / GIUSEPPE CACACE

DOHA, Qatar, Jan 20 – Qatar and FIFA published Tuesday the first jointly issued legacy planning strategy ahead of a football World Cup, with pledges on labour and LGBT rights alongside protections for activists and journalists.

Qatar has faced intense scrutiny from rights groups over its treatment of migrant labourers working on construction projects ahead of the 2022 tournament as well as its laws criminalising homosexual acts.

The 112-page “Sustainability Strategy” also sets out commitments on making the tournament inclusive for groups including the disabled, boosting economic development, protecting the environment and promoting ethical business practices.

“A total of 22 objectives have been described in detail, together with more than 70 concrete initiatives and programmes to deliver the strategy,” FIFA and the Qatari Supreme Committee organisers said in a statement.

On workers’ rights, the document said Qatar would promote “decent working and living conditions and fair recruitment, including effective access” to remedial measures.

“Efforts include measures to protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all the associated workers, especially migrant workers in Qatar, and to avoid any forced and child labour.”

Gulf analyst James Dorsey said the strategy “puts pressure on Qatar by definition”.

“Qatar may very well welcome this and they have been involved in drafting this document,” he said. “It helps them project themselves as standing up for human rights and values.”

But Dorsey warned that while “FIFA has these lofty principles” it was unclear how their implementation would be monitored.

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The strategy also contains a pledge to certify all stadiums and permanent offices under rigorous Global Sustainability Assessment System criteria to minimise environmental impacts.

Organisers will also improve “sustainable building standards and tools in Qatar” while seeking to use green building materials where possible, the document said.

Qatar’s ruler, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, vowed at the United Nations last year that the tournament would be carbon neutral, but gave little detail on how this would be achieved.

The document stresses that FIFA events prohibit “discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of race, skin colour, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, language, religion, opinion, wealth, birth or any other status”.

“As a host country for the FIFA World Cup 2022, Qatar is fully aware of its responsibility to adhere to FIFA’s human rights and non-discrimination” policies, the document added.

Security officers involved in the tournament would receive specialised human rights training and guidance on how to deal with media and rights activists, it said.

FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura said the tournament “offers us a unique opportunity to bring about positive change — one that FIFA and Qatar cannot, and will not, let slip away”.

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