Infantino: 2022 is an opportunity to set workers rights benchmark

FIFA President Gianni Infantino concluded his two-day visit to Qatar on Friday with a visit to the 2016 Workers Cup semi-finals and talked to members of the press afterwards at the QFA Technical Centre in Doha. He was joined on stage by QFA President Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmad Al Thani, and Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi.

Here are the highlights from the press conference.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino It is a great pleasure for me to be here in Qatar today and yesterday, in the capacity of President of FIFA, the organisation which will organise with the Qatari people a great World Cup in 2022. We are very much looking forward to that. Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit Khalifa International Stadium, a historic site for Qatar. We met with HH the Emir and the Prime Minister, and the QFA President as well as the Secretary General of the Supreme Committee.

I have also visited Labour City and have been following very closely the discussions on human rights, in particular with regards to the World Cup in Qatar. Over the past two days I have been able to personally witness what has been done, and I am confident we are on the right track. An encouraging example of this is the Supreme Committee’s responses to the issues raised by Amnesty International in their recent report, with many of those issues already being tackled before the report was published. The hosting of the FIFA World Cup is an opportunity to set a benchmark in terms of sustainable and fair working conditions for all workers in Qatar. We are aware of our responsibilities and our duties, and if we can help achieve changes beyond football then we will do so. I was very pleased to see the personal commitment of the Prime Minister and all the relevant authorities in Qatar.

We will take the Qatari authorities by their word, the concrete actions will be the real testament of their will. The policy has been decided by the highest authorities, the regulation is put in place and the enforcement is underway. There is a clear commitment at the highest level. This has an impact in Qatar but also the whole region, the other Gulf countries which are also looking at their legislation. We will not just sit and wait. We will step up our efforts in overseeing the efforts of the Supreme Committee, to make sure all obligations are fulfilled. I have proposed concretely an initiative, which they have also welcomed. This is the creation of a new oversight body led by FIFA, including independent members, and key stakeholders, to oversee all FIFA competitions. This oversight body will validate the quality and effectiveness of the due diligence process. Transparency is always key so we will issue progress reports to this effect. FIFA has the primary responsibility to serve the game, however human rights issues in construction are a global challenge, and everybody has a shared responsibility in this. We are taking our responsibility very seriously, and we are committed to playing our part.

The oversight body will be related to all World Cup tournaments and will be led by FIFA and include stakeholders, to ensure what we say will be delivered. It will put an additional layer of monitoring and control, because it is important. If positive things are going to happen anyway, which I’m convinced of, then this body will have an easy task. We know there are challenges, we understand that it is a process but we will move ahead. Of course I discussed the changes to the Kafala legislation this morning with the Prime Minister, this is also something which has to be acknowledged, respected and enforced. We are speaking about thousands and thousands of people, but without the World Cup none of this would even have been discussed. I am convinced that this World Cup in 2022 will have an absolutely tremendous impact. In a particular time where in the world we need to speak about respect, inclusion, I am convinced that this will be the World Cup of unity, respect and tolerance. This will be the tremendous legacy that 2022 will leave not only to Qatar and the Middle East, but to the whole world.

QFA President Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmad Al Thani We would like to welcome FIFA President Gianni Infantino to Qatar. It is an honour to have him here with us, and we wish him all the best as President of FIFA. I look forward to working closely together in the future with FIFA and to continuously enhancing our cooperation.

SC Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi First of all I’d like to congratulate President Infantino on his election, and wish him all the best on his journey as FIFA President. The journey with him over the past two days has been an honour, to have the President on this visit to see first hand the preparations for this World Cup. We have been able to show him the vision which the Qatar 2022 LOC and the QFA have been committed to, not only in terms of infrastructure, but also on workers’ welfare and the country’s overall commitment. We recognise the challenges ahead of us, the issues we face along the way, but our commitment steadfast on achieving our objectives to leave a lasting social legacy.

We welcome the approach of FIFA to add an independent monitoring body, which will add to our independent monitor, Impactt, and oversee the progress taking place on the ground. It exemplifies the spirit of what international tournaments can and will achieve. We are on schedule to deliver on our promises, in terms of infrastructure, legacy projects, and other initiatives which showcase the breadth of vision we have and the importance we put on 2022 in Qatar, the first World Cup in the Arab and Islamic world, and what it can achieve. Progress will be made on the ground, in terms of our social commitments and workers’ welfare. We are making sure that this World Cup achieves its goals to act as a catalyst for positive change, not only in Qatar but also in the region.