Cameron gives Qatar tips on labour practices

Qatar should learn from the UK’s construction of the 2012 Olympic venues, David Cameron said as he spoke about safety standards for World Cup stadium workers.

“My message is that they ought to insist on better,” the Prime Minister said following reports that large numbers of migrant workers are dying on building sites for the 2022 football tournament.

Without improving standards, campaigners warn, at least 4,000 workers could die before a ball is kicked.

“We in the Olympics, I think I’m right in saying, managed to build that entire Olympic Park with the best ever record on safety – no-one dying during construction, keeping injuries to an absolute minimum,” Mr Cameron told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“It can be done. The British construction industry we really can hold up as a good example to the rest of the world. That gives us an advantage in saying to the rest of the world ‘We’ll come and build some of your infrastructure’.

“This was an area we were bad at in the past and I think everyone has a duty to insist on the best safety standards.”

And yet, this is the same person, who, last year, said that health and safety legislation had become an “albatross around the neck of British businesses”, costing them billions of pounds a year and leaving entrepreneurs in fear of speculative claims.

Define irony.

Zahir Belounis: another embarrassment for Qatar

Today’s Independent report on the extraordinary case of Zahir Belounis, the French professional footballer,who has been held virtually captive in Qatar.

Belounis, who played for the El Jaish club, in the Stars League, has been told by Qatari authorities that he cannot leave the country unless he drops a legal case against El Jaish over what he claims are two years’ unpaid wages. The case gained such a high profile in France that the French President, François Hollande, tried, unsuccessfully, to intervene on Belounis’s behalf on a state visit to Qatar in June.

The 33-year-old took legal action against El Jaish in February after 18 months during which the club had failed to pay him under the terms of a five-year contract he signed in 2010. He has been told that under the kafala system of visa sponsorship, blamed for the inhuman treatment of Nepali workers employed on Qatar 2022 World Cup projects, he will not be allowed to leave the country unless he drops the case.

Belounis told The Independent that his football career is over and that he has feared for his mental health in the past six months.

He said that every day that he spent in Qatar, punished for his decision to defend himself legally was “unacceptable”. He said: “I am the first to do this [take legal action against a Qatari club]. Of course I am scared. I am not in my country. Now that I have started to speak to the press some of my friends have left [ie broken contact].

“I have lost everything. Now I want to come back to my country. Give me my freedom. Here you can stop someone leaving if they have done something, made a mistake [ie, committed a crime]. I have nothing against me. Nothing, nothing, nothing.”

Belounis is being supported by the International Trade Union Congress (ITUC), whose director Tim Noonan said: “He is unable to leave. It’s destroying his professional career and having a traumatic impact on his family.”

The ITUC laid out its concerns in person about working conditions in Qatar to FIFA’s general secretary, Jérôme Valcke, in November 2011. FIFA put out a short statement expressing their concerns but, the ITUC says, has done precious little since.

The more you hear about Qatar, the more you ask yourslef: what were they thinking when they decided to award the world’s most prestigious tournament to the such a state?

Restaurant introduces a Zlatan burger

A restaurant in Paris has added a “Le Zlatan” burger to their menu as a tribute to PSG’s Swedish striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Befitting a dish named after the highly-renumerated forward, the burger does not come cheap, setting diners back 30 euros a time, which, even in an affluent city like Paris, is going to limit the target market to Ibrahimovic and his agent.

The restaurant in question is Doddy’s Cafe in the Parisian suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt where, according to the Guardian, chef Jean-Philippe Grandin wanted to create “an exceptional burger, which really stands out from the crowd, in the image of Zlatan Ibrahimovic”.

With that in mind, he invented “Le Zlatan”: a 600-gram burger with “onions, bacon and three types of cheese including cheddar, Emmental and Auvergne blue” which are all housed in a giant bun that are custom made for the restaurant. The inclusion of the strong Auvergne blue cheese is especially significant.

“It’s a cheese with taste and character, just like Ibrahimovic,” Grandin told Le Parisien. “Only seven people have managed to finish it so far.”

With cheese that tastes like Ibrahimovic, it’s a wonder that they’ve persuaded seven people to try the burger. Restaurants have been shut down for less.

“I managed to eat more than half of it,” his assistant, Kelly, 29, said. “I’d recommend this burger to everyone. It truly has the strength and power of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.”

Apparently, the Zlatan burgers have a unique double effect: not only do they fill up the diners, but they also makes the diners really full of themselves.

Goal of the Day

Stunning overhead kick by Argentinian striker Lucas Viatri in Chiapas 2-1 win over Pachuca

Quote of the day

“So this Brazilian guy had a lot of trouble. So, in one second, we were in the mountains with the team and I said to my people, ‘Why don’t we call Real?’ We called, we wanted, and in 10 minutes it was done for €38m plus, plus. And they said, ‘now call Higuain’. We called the father and brother — they are his agents. So the day after, in Venice, we went in the airport for eight hours closed in a room and we did the deal. It was very easy. I didn’t know about the Gunners, Arsenal — nobody told me. I am sorry Arsenal!”

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis, whose side face Arsenal in the Champions League tonight, explains how he managed to outfox the Gunners to sign Gonzalo Higuain.

Gareth Bale a ‘one dimensional player?’

It hasn’t taken long for Spanish critics to start questioning the wisdom of Real Madrid breaking the world record transfer fee to sign Gareth Bale.

Bale has had a stop-start beginning to his Madrid career due, scoring on his debut against Villareal, but injuries have affected his introduction to Spanish football and he had little impact coming on as a substitute in Real’s defeat to rivals Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

Now, literally minutes into his Madrid career, Marca’s assistant editor Santiago Segurola has questioned whether Madrid invested their money wisely.

He writes: “I might be wrong, because Gareth Bale has joined late and has barely had a pre-season, but he seems to be a one-dimensional player, who is not so involved in the dynamic side of the game.”

He prefaced this by criticising the sale of Mesut Ozil to Arsenal, stating: “The sale of Ozil is an historic error. Real Madrid has got rid of its second best player. He’s a 24-year-old player who brought out the best in everyone around him, especially Cristiano Ronaldo.”

Elsewhere, Bale’s ineffectual display in the derby was also noted by Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo, although it should be mentioned that this is a publication loyal to Barcelona.

Jouralist Jesus Galindo wrote: “The man who cost just € 101 million contributed nothing to the team in its debut in the derby.

“He showed desire, but lacked speed, one of his main features, and did not look comfortable on the right wing, where he had been placed by Carlo Ancelotti. His attacking edge was limited to a left-foot shot from the edge of the area stopped by Courtois.

“Besides that drew applause from the stands when they saw him on the field, otherwise Bale debut at the Bernabeu went virtually unnoticed . The 101 million euros that Florentino Perez invested his signing , were not reflected in his game.

“Although it is too early to make any assessment of Bale, on Saturday, to the disappointment of the fans to see the poor image provided by your computer, some doubt the Welshman and whether the investment is worth it.”

It looks like Bale faces an uphill battle convincing the Spanish critics of his talents. Still, the £300,000 a weekly salary will go some way to easing the pain.

Ronaldo almost an Arsenal player

Cristiano Ronaldo has found himself in some pretty classy company: he, along with just about every other major player in world football, didn’t end up playing for Arsenal.

The news that Ronaldo was a target for Arsenal will come as a big shock to Arsenal fans critical of the club’s lack of ambition; the news that he didn’t join, much less so.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has revealed that he’d even given the Portuguese forward the Arsenal number nine shirt.

In a documentary called Ronaldo Footballing Superstar, set to be screened tonight on ITV4, Wenger has now explained how close he came to signing the prolific striker

Wenger says: “He was very close to coming here. He has a number nine shirt with Ronaldo on the back from Arsenal Football Club.

“What happened was that Carlos Queiroz went to Manchester United and they snapped him away from us because he knew him from Sporting.

“That’s what life is about. You give your best but sometimes you might find that people are stronger than you. That can happen as well.”

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