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FIFA President meets with Qatari leadership: World Cup preparations & workers’ rights top of the agenda

FIFA President Infantino inspects the progress of a 2022 FIFA World Cup stadium during his first official visit to Qatar
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The preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ and sustainable workers’ welfare were at the top of the agenda for FIFA President Gianni Infantino during his two-day meetings with the Qatari leadership. 

At the Al Bahr Palace, the discussion with His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani focused on the country’s overall preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the progress accomplished to date including workers rights. His Highness the Emir also congratulated the FIFA President on becoming head of the world’s football governing body and wished him success in his duties. The Emir expressed his hope that Gianni Infantino’s presidency would serve football around the world.

Qatar’s Prime Minister HE Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani briefed Infantino on the government’s developments undertaken to protect migrant workers’ rights. The Prime Minister also laid out some of the future plans on the on-going reforms on workers' rights.

“We had a very open and positive discussion on the 2022 FIFA World Cup and a wide range of topics,” President Infantino said. “I told the Prime Minister the measures taken so far by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) to ensure fair working conditions on FIFA World Cup construction sites are going in the right direction. 

“However, I made it very clear that it is essential for the Qatari authorities to ensure that the country complies to international standards on the treatment of workforce and to continue at full pace with the implementation of the promised measures. The hosting of the FIFA World Cup is an opportunity to set a benchmark in terms of sustainable and fair conditions for all workers in Qatar.

“I was pleased to see the personal commitment of the Prime Minister not only to the 2022 FIFA World Cup but also to treat with the utmost importance the issues of workers’ standards so as to guarantee their rights in full. FIFA and I will take the Qatari authorities at their word and I look forward to the concrete actions which will be the real testament of will.”

Site inspections
On Thursday, the FIFA President visited the construction site of the Khalifa International Stadium and the accommodation facilities at Labour City. Following the site visits, he and his delegation received a comprehensive updated on the various aspects of preparations for the FIFA World Cup by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi and other senior football officials in the country. He used the occasion to get an update from the President of the Qatar Football Association (QFA) H.E Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmad Al Thani on the latest football developments in Qatar.

Giving his thoughts on his visit President Infantino said: “It was very important for me to personally get an impression of the preparations from a different perspective. It was very interesting and I want to thank Hassan Al Thawadi and his team. There is a big commitment from the Qatari people.

“I can see the hard work being done by the Supreme Committee. It is right that the FIFA World Cup is not just about organising the game’s premier event but also about achieving positive and sustainable change. 2016 is an important year as we need to ensure that we have the best structure in place for the 2022 FIFA World Cup operations. The SC can count on my continued support in helping to make this event a success.”

For his part, SC Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi said: “We are honoured to have hosted the FIFA President here in Qatar and to be able to show him first-hand the continued progress taking place on stadium construction, workers’ welfare, our overall tournament preparations and legacy planning. 

“It has been a very positive visit and the productive discussions held show us we are on the right track to delivering an outstanding and historic first ever FIFA World Cup in the Middle East. Qatar will be ready and will meet all FIFA’s requirements in terms of stadiums and infrastructure well in advance of the tournament. Crucially, we are also firmly committed to leaving a lasting social legacy after the tournament – including in the area of workers’ welfare, where we continue to make progress.”

Before departing to Zurich, the FIFA President, who was accompanied by France 1998 Bronze medallist Zvonimir Boban and 1982 FIFA World Cup winner Alessandro “Spillo” Altobelli, attended the semi-final of the Workers Football Cup. Infantino was moved by the atmosphere: “An amazing event showing once again the power of football. It is fantastic to see the passion of the workers. I want to take this opportunity to pay my respect and gratitude to the workers helping shape the FIFA World Cup.”

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