World Cup 2022: Qatar promises to act on newspaper claims

By Richard Conway5 live sports news correspondent
World Cup 2022: Footage emerges of Qatar's migrant workers

Qatar insist the 2022 World Cup will not be "built on the blood of innocents" following newspaper allegations about the treatment of migrant workers in the Gulf state.

World governing body Fifa plans to discuss the issue in Zurich on Friday.

But Hassan Al Thawadi, head of Qatar's organising committee, said his organisation was addressing concerns.

"It's not a World Cup being built on the blood of innocents," he said. "That is unacceptable to anybody."

He added that Qatar "will be eradicating these issues" and would retain its right to host the World Cup in 2022.

The Guardian investigation claims:

  • At least 44 workers died between 4 June and 8 August, more than half because of heart-related issues or workplace accidents
  • There is some evidence of forced labour on a major World Cup infrastructure project
  • Nepalese men have not been paid for months, with salaries retained and passports confiscated to limit their movements
  • Access to free drinking water on construction sites has been denied on some occasions

Fifa has already registered its concern at the report, but members of its powerful executive committee will discuss the issue in depth on Friday.

As executive members arrived for the start of their two-day meeting at Fifa headquarters in the Swiss city of Zurich, they were greeted by a group of trade unionists protesting outside the gates.

Members of the Swiss union Unia were among those waving red cards to register their anger at the alleged poor treatment of migrant workers in Qatar.

"There can be no World Cup in Qatar without workers' rights and human rights being adhered to," said Unia spokesman Vasco Pedrina.

"Fifa has a great responsibility. That is why we are showing them the red card today. We are demanding that they intervene very strongly with the Qatari government."

In response, Fifa spokesman Walter De Gregorio said football's world governing body was taking the matter seriously and had been in talks with various trades unions and Human Rights Watch for "a long time".

He added: "We are aware of the problem and we take it very seriously. We are also in talks with the government in Qatar and are trying to assert the pressure that we can.

"I personally am convinced that we will have different conditions in Qatar in the future to the ones which we have at the moment."

Fifa's executive committee will also discuss whether the 2022 tournament should be switched from June and July because of the health risks to players and fans posed by the searing summer temperatures in Qatar.