Doha (AFP) – The World Cup in Qatar has been “treated and reviewed unfairly” for years, its chief executive said on Saturday, responding to criticism of its human rights record.
CEO Nasser al-Khater said Qatar had not received enough credit for its labor reforms aimed at improving conditions for migrant workers, mostly from South Asia.
Since 2014, three people have died in accidents at World Cup venues, while 39 have died in “non-work-related” incidents considered to be natural causes, officials said.
“Qatar has been unfairly treated and watched for a number of years,” Khater told media just over a year before the tournament began on November 21, 2022.
“There are criticisms, yes there is work to be done. There is still a lot of progress.
Some European teams have highlighted the plight of migrant workers from Qatar in the World Cup qualifiers, and F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton also raised the issue at the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix this week.
But Khater said there had been “extraordinary” progress, including the introduction of a minimum wage and improvements in working and housing conditions.
“The number of accomplishments that have been accomplished over the past seven, eight, nine years is quite extraordinary. Now, unfortunately, people don’t like to talk about it, ”he said.
“You also take it in the context of the region. I think Qatar is a pioneer right now with all the reforms it has undertaken.
Qatar has released a series of reforms to its labor regulations since being selected to host the World Cup, including introducing a monthly minimum wage of $ 275 and streamlining the process of changing employers.
Over two million foreigners work in Qatar, many employed directly or indirectly on large infrastructure projects for the World Cup.
Fifty workers died in Qatar last year and more than 500 were seriously injured, the United Nations International Labor Organization said in a report released this week.
It highlighted gaps in data collection and recommended further investigation of deaths classified as non-work-related.