FIFA 2022 stadium numbers to be decided next year

FIFA to announce Qatar World Cup venues decision next year

Paul Hughes/SC FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura.
Paul Hughes/SC FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura.

FIFA to announce Qatar World Cup venues decision next year

While construction on Qatar’s World Cup venues continues unabated, the final number of stadiums required for the event remains unclear, Doha News reports.

The decision as to whether Qatar will continue with the eight stadiums it has already planned for the 2022 World Cup or add one more will be made by the middle of next year.

During a visit to Qatar last week, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said: “Discussions are ongoing about the number of stadiums and training sites. We will be able to come up with a common agreement by the end of Q2 2017.”

The official also touched on human rights issues that have held the international media’s attention and roused the ire of human rights movements such as Amnesty international.

She also briefly addressed the ongoing alcohol debate around the event.

While host countries are required to have a minimum of eight venues, in its initial tournament bid, Qatar planned for 12 stadiums to be constructed.

Samoura drew attention to sustainability concerns saying that the final number of stadia should take this into account post the event: “White elephants should be limited to the minimum,” she added.

While a decision was to have been made this year on the number of stadia, last week an official said it would be made “in due course.”

In an interview last week, with local news Al Sharq, the chief executive of Qatar’s local organising committee (LOC) Hassan Al Thawadi, said that should the requirement dictate, Qatar could construct up to nine stadiums.Samoura has undertaken a tour of the five under construction stadiums, according to a statement issued by the Supreme Committee

of Delivery and Legacy (SC), which also published videos showing construction progress at some of the main venues to coincide with the visit.

Due first for completion is the Khalifa International Stadium, with launch date slated for early next year.

While previously Qatar said that 2022 spending will not be affected by austerity measures on the back of lower global oil prices and budget cuts, Al Thawadi told Al Sharq that private funding is now a consideration to build Ras Abu Aboud stadium and training pitches.

The venue is one of the outstanding three stadiums for which designs have yet to be revealed.

Samoura emphasised during a media briefing that her delegation’s main focus was to ensure workers’ welfare.

“We keep urging the Qatari government to accelerate the worker reform process,” she said and added that plans to form a human rights advisory board in consultation with FIFA are also “advancing”.

Samoura added that one of the challenges for Qatar’s Local Organising Committee is to develop bonds with international trade union organisations and groups that champion workers’ rights.

These include the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI).

The problem comes in that unions are essentially illegal in the country and have been critical of Qatar’s treatment of blue-collar workers.

“We want to broaden the partnership with the ILO and BWI. The Supreme Committee and the LOC have already taken it very seriously,” she stated.

In March this year, Qatar was warned by the ILO to take decisive action to improve migrant workers’ rights or risk a possible UN investigation.

International scrutiny continues as the country is watched by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which criticised UK trade minister Greg Hands who was in Qatar eliciting business, but who made no mention of the issue of workers’ rights in an article he wrote for The Peninsula.

While Samoura acknowledged the “immediate measures” that were taken following the first work-related death on a stadium site, she pointed out that Qatar faces “several challenges” on human rights and workers’ welfare.

Asked to comment on criticisms levelled at Qatar for its worker’s rights, Samoura said: “I don’t waste my time answering these… everywhere you go, there are human rights issues. Qatar and Russia are no exceptions.”

The issue around whether Qatar’s stadiums will sell alcohol remains undecided, the secretary general said: “No decision has been taken.”

Al Thawadi said that he was “personally against the provision of alcohol in stadiums” in a statement last week, but he did not stipulate ruling out its sale at the venues.

Samoura added: “We do respect the customs and culture of the country and the last thing FIFA would like to be accused of is to pretend it does not pay attention to these customs

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