PLAYFAIR Qatar and the ITUC told the Star yesterday that they want to see Qatar stripped of the 2022 World Cup for the continued abuse of migrant workers, not to end the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf.
In a series of tweets on Sunday night, head of general security for the Emirate of Dubai Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan said that “if the World Cup goes out of Qatar, the crisis in Qatar will end because the crisis was made to break it.”
However, Playfair Qatar said that they don’t want the World Cup to become “a pawn in bitter regional dispute” and would only back a change of venue on the grounds of “failure to reform.”
“The World Cup in Qatar continues to be a sordid embarrassment to football,” Playfair Qatar said, “and few could argue that losing the rights to host it would not be a fitting punishment for a country that has failed to respond quickly to the demands for urgent reform made by international unions and human rights groups. Thousands of working people continue to be put at risk as they get Qatar’s infrastructure ready for 2022.
“However, the notion that the UAE and the other Gulf states have the interest of Qatar’s migrant workers at heart is laughable. If Fifa was to take the World Cup away because of Qatar’s failure to reform, we would support it.
“It would be a powerful statement of what the international community is prepared to accept. However, we don’t support the World Cup becoming a pawn in a bitter regional dispute, and the other Gulf countries would be better off looking to reform their own labour laws before they get on their high horse.
“Qatar’s best response is to properly enforce its laws and make urgent concessions to the International Labour Organisation when the country is discussed at meetings this November. By doing the right thing, albeit belatedly, Qatar could still embarrass its enemies, most of whom have consistently failed to do so.”
That sentiment was echoed by the ITUC, who added: “The UAE has no right to criticise any other country on the grounds of workers’ rights. The workers’ rights situation in the UAE is appalling, and the statement from the UAE government on this issue seems to be for geopolitical reasons, not for the benefit of workers.
“The awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar should provide an opportunity for real reform of workers’ rights in Qatar and we continue to call on the Qatar government to make the necessary reforms.”
The comments from Khalfan was the first time that the World Cup has been used as a bargaining chip by the boycotting countries.
Qatari officials did not respond to requests for comment yesterday, though the 2022 tournament’s head in Qatar said on Friday that the boycott poses “no risk” to the competition being held.
Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates all cut diplomatic ties and began a boycott of Qatar on June 5 , in part over allegations that Doha supports extremists and has overly warm ties to Iran.
Qatar has long denied funding extremists and restored full diplomatic ties to Iran amid the dispute.
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