FIFA and trade unions reach agreement over Qatar

FIFA President Sepp Blatter and the President of the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) and of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Michael Sommer, have agreed that fair working conditions must be introduced in Qatar.

The FIFA President mandated FIFA Executive Committee member Dr Theo Zwanziger to continue talks with the ITUC and involve human rights and labour organisations in these talks. He also reported on his meeting with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.

The meeting follows revelations over the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar working on infrastructure projects.

A new report by Amnesty International, The Dark Side of Migration: Spotlight on Qatar’s construction sector ahead of the World Cup, found Qatar’s construction sector rife with abuse, with workers employed on multi-million dollar projects suffering serious exploitation.

Following the meeting, Blatter, said: “Economic and political leaders must contribute to improving the unacceptable situation in Qatar.

“That is why I welcome the initiative shown by the DFB and ITUC because together we can achieve change. I am convinced that Qatar is taking the situation very seriously. These very discussions about Qatar show just what an important role football can play in generating publicity and thus bringing about change.”

German football president Wolfgang Niersbach, also in attendance, added: “The awarding of the World Cup and the considerable public exposure gives us the opportunity to point out irregularities and to exact lasting change. If we succeed, then a lot will have been achieved. It was a matter of priority for us to quickly bring together the International Trade Union Confederation and FIFA as contractual partners for Qatar.”

ITUC and DGB President Michael Sommer shared those sentiments, stating: “We are very pleased that FIFA and the DFB have joined us in our mission to establish humane working conditions in the host country of Qatar. Qatar must guarantee the ILO’s core labour standards and thus eliminate discrimination and forced labour as well as allow freedom of association for its 1.3 million migrant workers.”

While the moves to improve the conditions of the Qatar workforce are obviously welcome, it does make one wonder about the lengthy vetting process undertaken by FIFA prior to the awarding of the 2022 finals to the Gulf state. In the FIFA evaluation report, which ran to 36 pages, there was not one mention of the appalling conditions endured by migrant workers. Was this an oversight, or did FIFA simply not care how the World Cup infrastructure would be built, just so long as it was built?

12 die in Algerian World Cup celebrations

Algerian authorities say 12 people have died and up to 240 injured during celebrations for Algeria’s 1-0 victory over Burkina Faso that sent the country’s team to the World Cup finals in Brazil.

A government statement said that five celebrating fans were killed when a van slid off the road into a ravine in the mountain town of Bejaia, east of Algiers, while four others died in the southern city of Biskra in a car accident.

The remaining three died in other towns, the statement added without further details.

Across Algeria people poured into the streets after the final whistle Tuesday night to celebrate their team’s qualification for the event in Brazil, with young men driving their cars down the streets and honking their horns with abandon.

Residents described a great deal of reckless behavior in the course of the celebrations that continued throughout the night in some cities.

It is the fourth trip to the World Cup for Algeria and follows closely on its 2010 appearance in South Africa.

Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal and other members of the government lunched with the victorious team on Wednesday.

Simunic invokes Croatia’s Nazi past

Croatia’s World Cup qualification celebrations have been overshadowed by apparent pro-Nazi chants by fans and defender Joe Simunic.

Croatia qualified for the World Cup with a 2-0 win over Iceland on Tuesday.

Video footage (see below) shows Simunic holding a microphone and shouting to the fans: “For the homeland!” The fans respond: “Ready!”

That was the war call used by Ustashas, the Croatian pro-Nazi regime that ruled the state during World War II.

The Australian-born Simunic, who faces disciplinary action by FIFA, was unapologetic when quizzed about his actions.

“Some people have to learn some history. I’m not afraid,” the 35-year-old defender said. “I did nothing wrong. I’m supporting my Croatia, my homeland. If someone has something against it, that’s their problem.”

The same chant coupled with the Nazi salute has often been used by Croatian fans in the past. FIFA and UEFA have punished the Croatian Football Association in the past as a result of the behaviour of some fans.

Two weeks ago, FIFA fined Croatia 35,000 Swiss francs for incidents including fans making salute gestures during its previous match in Zagreb, a 2-1 loss to Belgium on October 11.

FIFA said it was considering disciplinary action.

“We are in the process of analyzing the different match officials’ reports and gathering information,” FIFA said in a statement.

Simunic faces a possible suspension which could apply to matches in Brazil at the World Cup.

Quote of the Day

“[Ibrahimovic] did everything he could, but Ronaldo was just that little bit better.”

Johan Elmander underlines the difference between a very good footballer and a great one.

Goals of the Day

Three sumptuous passes, three clinical finishes. Impossible to determine which of Cristiano Ronaldo’s three goals against Sweden was the better.

World Cup not worth watching

Sweden’s ever-modest Zlatan Ibrahimovic says the World Cup finals will not be worth watching without him in Brazil.

The PSG forward scored twice in the second leg against Portugal, but was overshadowed by opponent Cristiano Ronaldo, who notched a hat-trick in a dramatic 3-2 World Cup play-off victory.

“It was probably [my] last attempt to reach the World Cup with the national team for me,” said a disappointed  Ibrahimovic.

“One thing is for sure, a World Cup without me is nothing to watch. Congratulations to Portugal, but both teams deserved to get to the World Cup.”

Clearly, Ibrahimovic has fond memories of illuminating his two previous World Cups, in which he has managed precisely zero goals and not one memorable performance.

The Swede was gracious enough to acknowledge that the best team progressed to next year’s finals.

“Of course I’m disappointed. I wanted to play the World Cup,” the striker added. “We did our best. Unfortunately, we played against a better team, better than us no doubt.”

Asked about his future plans, Ibrahimovic told TV4: “We’ll see, to talk out here in front of a television camera feels completely wrong. I run on, I am a proud captain. After a loss [we] will be back even stronger and that’s what I intend to do.”

France win and weather girl vows to present naked

French television viewers may be in for a shock tonight after Doria Tillier vowed to present the weather forecast naked if France qualified for the World Cup.

With France 2-0 down after the first leg of their play-off against Ukraine, Tillier promised to take her clothes off if Les Bleus recovered to qualify for next year’s Finals in Brazil. On the evidence of the first leg, the chances of Tillier taking her clothes on national television looked vanishingly slim.

Viewers can tune in to Canal+ tonight to see if Tillier fulfills her promise after Didier Deschamps’ side beat Ukraine 3-0 at Stade de France.

After France scored their second goal to draw level, Tillier tweeted: ‘F***. 2-0 for France. I’m starting to stress.’

Tillier, a former model and actress, has been a weather presenter on French nightly news and talk show Le Grand Journal since August 2012.