Qatar has been “treated and scrutinized unfairly” according to the 2022 World Cup chief executive – who insists it is a “pioneer” in the Middle East.
FIFA’s decision in 2010 to allocate accommodation rights in Qatar has been repeatedly criticized and organizations including Amnesty International have accused the country of failing to protect migrant workers and of having a poor human rights record.
Nasser al Khater, the head of the organizing committee, denounced the criticism and said there had been “a lot of progress”.
“Yes, Qatar has been unfairly treated and watched over for a number of years,” he said.
“There are criticisms, yes there is work to be done. There is however a lot of progress but unfortunately this has not been taken into account in reports such as Amnesty, Human Rights Watch.
“I think Qatar in a lot of ways, if you take it in context and you take it in the context of the region and you take it in the context of the amount of achievements that have been made over the past seven, eight or the last nine years, that’s pretty extraordinary.
“Now unfortunately people don’t like to report this – people like to report anything negative. No one has ever gone out of their way to sit down and look at it objectively to see what this country has achieved in the world. over the past seven, eight years. “
World Cup organizers insist there have only been three work-related deaths since construction of the main stadiums began.
The infrastructure is still being completed, while site entrances can be found on most sides of the 80,000-seat Lusail stadium.
The high-rise luxury hotels and even the extensive road networks were not completed in time for the somewhat hasty Formula 1 debut this weekend – despite work apparently underway at all hours.
“The work is not as close to completion as the authorities suggest,” said a perimeter worker at the site.
“He will be ready, but only because we are working so hard. We are doing our best.”
Lewis Hamilton, who qualified from pole position for Sunday’s race, was praised for wearing a rainbow-colored helmet ahead of the inaugural Grand Prix. He also called on his athletic colleagues to speak out on human rights issues as he first arrived in the desert.
But Mr al Khater also said members of the LGBTQ + community and same-sex couples would be free to travel to Qatar for the World Cup unhindered – despite the fact that male homosexuality carries a penalty. prison and that same-sex marriages are not recognized by the government.
He said prominent names are misinformed: “No one can stop anyone from taking a stand publicly or privately if they want to, but this is something we will consider unfair and honestly incorrect.”
But, when asked if an educational program should be put in place for the locals, he did not accept that it was necessary.
“Everyone is welcome to come to Qatar and have a good time at the World Cup,” he added.
“They can come and enjoy their time here without fear of any kind of repercussions, it makes no difference to (sexual) orientation, religion, belief, race of people.”