FIFA sets up worker welfare body for Qatar World Cup

Updated 22 April 2016
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FIFA sets up worker welfare body for Qatar World Cup

DOHA: The head of soccer’s world governing body FIFA urged Qatar to hasten improvements in safety and labor conditions for builders working on sites for the 2022 World Cup and declared:“we will not just sit and wait.”
Gianni Infantino, on a two-day visit to Qatar, announced plans for a special working group to monitor the situation and achnowledged there were still “many challenges.”
Amnesty International reported on abuses in Qatar’s preparations for the World Cup in a wide-ranging report three weeks ago based on the accounts of 132 workers at the sites. It found construction workers from Nepal and India had been charged recruitment fees and housed in squalid conditions.
Infantino said Qatar, the tournament’s first Arab host, supported the monitoring initiative.
“I acknowledge very much the efforts which are being done. I want to see these efforts now being put in practice,” Infantino, elected as president of the scandal-plagued federation in February, told reporters. “Of course we will not just sit and wait.
“FIFA will step up its efforts in overseeing....in order to ensure the protection of the workers’ rights in the construction of the FIFA World Cup sites is fulfilled“
The head of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, Hassan Al-Thawadi, has said Doha is working to reduce abuses he described as occurring on construction sites all over the world.
Infantino faces pressure from human rights groups to press for reform of labor laws in Qatar including its “kafala” sponsorship system, whereby employers effectively control a worker’s freedom to leave the country.
Infantino said he had told Qatari Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Thani measures taken by Qatari authorities to ensure fair working conditions were going in the right direction.
“I, of course, discussed with the prime minister this morning about this topic, about the Kafala (sponsorship) legislation, about how it will be, or how it is going to change with regard to the workers,” he said.
Switzerland’s attorney-general has launched a investigation into FIFA’s decision to award the event to Qatar, as well as the 2018 World Cup to Russia, at a vote in December 2010 in Zurich.
But Infantino said there was no question of the tournament being held elsewhere.
In an earlier statement issued by FIFA, Infantino said the hosting of the World Cup was an opportunity to set a benchmark for fair conditions for all workers in Qatar.


Simona Halep positive despite Dubai defeat by Belinda Bencic

Updated 21 February 2019
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Simona Halep positive despite Dubai defeat by Belinda Bencic

  • Former world No.1 blames three-set loss on tiredness after nine matches in 13 days.
  • Halep has high hopes for the rest of 2019, saying her game is in good shape.

LONDON: Simona Halep is still certain a good year lies in store for her despite losing to Belinda Bencic in the Dubai quarterfinals.
The Romanian former world No. 1 was the favorite to win her second title in the emirate but ran out of steam as her Swiss opponent ran out 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 winner.
It was Halep’s ninth match in just 13 days and she admitted tiredness had caught up with her.
“It was really difficult physically. I was tired,” the world No. 2 said.

Bencic came from a set down to beat the favorite in the last-eight encounter in Dubai. (AFP) 


“After the second set, I felt like I’m getting cramping a little bit. It’s normal. I was sweating a lot.”
While, her fatigue was clear for all to see, Halep was not using it as an excuse, admitting Bencic, who has now beaten her in two of their three matches, was the deserved winner.
“Yeah, she played well. She played very well. In the end, she was a little bit stronger,” the Romanian said.
Having lost in the Qatar final last weekend and failed to make the last-four in Dubai you might think Halep would be disappointed with her Middle East stint. She was, however, far from glum and revealed she is looking forward to landing more titles to add to her collection during the rest of the year.

Cheerio from Halep after her defeat to the Swiss. (AFP) 


“I think were three good weeks. Tough weeks. A lot of tension, a lot of pressure. Also the Fed Cup,” she said.
“I take only positive things. I had great matches. My level is good. Physically also I’m good. But day by day I had to play, so is not easy.
“I’m confident for the next tournaments.”