Qatar hopes to be a benchmark for other countries in the region, in terms of workers’ conditions, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy secretary general Hassan al-Thawadi has said.
“Qatar is using the power of the FIFA World Cup to introspect and change to the point that its aspiration is to be a benchmark for workers’ conditions by the time the 2022 World Cup is fulfilled,” he stated.
In an interview with leading Indian daily Hindustan Times, al-Thawadi described Qatar ‘as a salad bowl, where every ingredient retains its taste and texture and yet produces a distinctive crunchy salad.’
“The World Cup has thrown the spotlight on workers’ conditions but it is a major issue in most countries. However, it was something we were committed to improving long before we bid for it.
“We are, therefore, looking to the World Cup contributing to it in a positive way. We are looking at it to be the catalyst for change in our legislative system and in our enforcement system.”
For the key official involved in a committee responsible for delivering the 2022 World Cup, al-Thawadi said negative projections in the media was something they knew would happen.
“Every time a non-traditional country gets to host a major sporting event, there is always a pessimistic perception. It happened in Brazil and in South Africa before the World Cup. What was added to it was the ulterior motive of some critics who waged clandestine campaigns,” he said.
Al-Thawadi also said that India could benefit massively from west Asia’s first football World Cup, one that will have some stadia artificially cooled.
“India plays an important part of our culture and is embedded within our colloquial speak. By India, I also mean its neighbouring countries too, the region,” he said.
He couldn’t provide a ball-park figure but said with a major Indian company being a main partner in construction work in one of the eight stadia and with manpower being sourced from the country along with work sub-contracted, the economic impetus for India would be massive.
“Economically, India stands to gain at a macro level because we are looking to use the country’s expertise in technology, construction and operations. For India, the 2022 World Cup will have a direct and indirect economic benefit,” he said.
Qatar not qualifying for Russia - making it the first country to debut in the World Cup finals by virtue of being hosts - is disappointing for al-Thawadi but only as a football fan. So long as they put up a competitive team, it will be all right, he said.
“We do have pedigree; we were second in an under-21 World Cup and hosted one in 1995 at three weeks’ notice. Football is part of our culture and I am confident we will have a team that can put up a fight,” he added.