(AA) – Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Sunday met with Joseph Blatter, the head of the International Football Federation (FIFA), who is on a visit to the Gulf state.
The meeting dwelt on existing relations of cooperation between Qatar and FIFA as well as means of enhancing those relations, according to the official Qatari news agency.
It said Sheikh Tamim and Blatter also discussed preparations for the World Cup 2022, which is expected to be held in Qatar.
Blatter said after the meeting that it was important for him to get the latest information [about these preparations] directly from the highest political authority in Qatar.
He added that this was particularly so ahead of the FIFA Executive Committee meeting next week, according to the website of the football federation.
“It is encouraging to hear the Emir’s personal commitment to workers’ welfare and to get a sense of the improvements planned for all workers in Qatar.” Blatter said.
“As various human-rights groups have recently noted, progress has been made already, especially with regard to the standards introduced by the Supreme Committee relating to 2022 construction sites, but more must be done in Qatar to ensure uniformly fair working conditions for all,” Blatter added.
He went on to note that such measures “will only be possible through the collective effort of all stakeholders – from construction companies to the authorities – adding that “Qatar takes its responsibility as host seriously and sees the FIFA World Cup as a catalyst for positive social change.”
In February, FIFA announced a proposal to hold the 2022 World Cup tournament in November and December of 2022, to avoid Qatar’s sweltering summer heat in June and July.
FIFA’s general assembly is expected to vote on the proposal on March 19 and 20 in Zurich.
Qatar had previously come under scathing criticism from international human rights organizations owing to the living and working conditions of migrant laborers, especially in the construction sector.
Doha had denied any violations to laborers’ rights, stressing that it would “strictly deal with any violations from construction companies against workers, especially when it comes to migrants.”
Qatar won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup tournament after a competition with Australia, South Korea, the U.S., and Japan.