Head of World Cup organising committee defends country's human rights record.
Hassan Al-Thawadi, head of Qatar’s World Cup committee, said the country has been “singled out” for criticism, adding that no labourer has died during more than 14 million man hours of work on venues for the 2022 finals.
In a spirited defence of Qatar’s position, Thawadi, also said the Gulf state does not expect to lose the World Cup, regardless of the ongoing investigation into the 2022 bidding process in Switzerland, amid allegations of bribery.
Thawadi said there was no evidence of wrongdoing against Qatar and that the country would cooperate with investigators in Switzerland and the US “should there be any request”.
“We always expected criticism,” Thawadi said in an interview posted on the Supreme Committee’s website.
“We became the victim of a campaign that singled out Qatar and our successful bid without any shred of evidence.”
Asked if he was worried Qatar could be stripped of the right to host the 2022 tournament, Thawadi replied: “Absolutely not.”
Qatar has not been contacted by investigators in Switzerland or the US, confirmed Thawadi.
As well as fielding allegations of corruption, Qatar has come under sustained attack for its record on migrant workers’ rights.
This summer it was claimed in the US media that 1,200 labourers had died on World Cup construction sites.
“That is simply not true,” said Thawadi.
“In more than 14 million man hours worked the Supreme Committee has not experienced one fatality on site.”
Meanwhile, Swiss authorities have confirmed they are reviewing 133 reports of suspicious financial activity linked to the decisions by football’s ruling body to let Russia and Qatar host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals.
That was up from the 103 cases the Swiss Office of the Attorney General had reported in August in its investigation of suspected corruption at FIFA, whose headquarters are in Zurich.