FIFA President Gianni Infantino says labor issue in Qatar ‘will slow’ World Cup

Written by Staff Writer Gianni Infantino President of FIFA Gianni Infantino talks about the impact of labor rights during a press conference after the closing ceremony for the 4th FIFA Congress in Kiev, Ukraine…

FIFA President Gianni Infantino says labor issue in Qatar 'will slow' World Cup

Written by Staff Writer

Gianni Infantino

President of FIFA Gianni Infantino talks about the impact of labor rights during a press conference after the closing ceremony for the 4th FIFA Congress in Kiev, Ukraine , on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (Czarek Sokolowski/The Associated Press)

FIFA President Gianni Infantino told a press conference in Moscow on Saturday that the impact of labor rights issues in Qatar will not come without a cost and declared it has happened “way before” the World Cup gets underway in June.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is set to be awarded to a location where international labor rights groups say Qatari laborers are subjected to abusive conditions including labor camps where families live and work — with no daylight.

In recent months, human rights groups have urged FIFA to reconsider awarding the World Cup to Qatar and refused to rule out a boycott from high-profile FIFA executives including Infantino if a vote on the 2022 venue is delayed.

In addition to labor issues, labor agencies have also expressed concerns about the safety of FIFA employees working in Qatar. Infantino admitted that the problems “will certainly slow down the plan of football in that country,” but he refused to say whether FIFA is hoping for a change in venue.

“The numbers of deaths are much, much less than I thought. Also we’ve had many reports coming from FIFA which tell us that the social policies and the labor policies of the country have developed over the last years to be one of the strongest in the world. That is one of the reasons why the committee of the…citizens of 2022 chose to come here,” he said.

“I’m confident that the evolution of the country will be healthy and the football will be popular,” he added.

In June, Qatar’s Information Minister Yousef bin Alawi met with representatives of Britain’s Independent Inquiry into Social Unfairness in the Gulf and Btselem, the Israeli Campaign to End Israeli Occupation, to discuss the human rights situation among non-Qatari migrant workers.

Asked whether he believed that the 2022 World Cup would ever be awarded to Qatar, Infantino said: “I am not for competition between 2022 and 2020. 2022 is 2022. The World Cup won’t be played here in 2026 or 2028. I’m not part of the debate. I think the winners will be the ones who get the best for 2022.”

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