The eight stadiums – all within a 30-mile radius of Doha – are now largely complete. The 2022 World Cup has been preserved after fending off hostility from neighbors, corruption investigations and concerns about worker abuses. And a clock on the Corniche waterfront in the Qatari capital was unveiled on Sunday to count down one year until kickoff.
Expect another 12 months of pressure from rights groups – fueled by player protests – and indignation from some World Cup organizers.
“Qatar has been unfairly treated and scrutinized for a number of years,” organizing committee CEO Nasser Al Khater said Saturday.
That scrutiny, though, has produced improvements to labor laws under the weight of criticism of working conditions since a reported $200 billion of upgrades to the country’s infrastructure began after the FIFA vote in December 2010.
“You take it into context of the region,” Al Khater told reporters, “I think Qatar is a trailblazer right now with all the reform that it’s done, whether it’s on worker standards, accommodation standards, the introduction of minimum wage.”
In some cases it was the World Cup organizing committee introducing changes before the country as a whole, but the enforcement of laws and conditions facing workers – particularly in the fierce summer heat – remains a source of concern for groups.
Qatar has not provided full details and data on the deaths of the migrant workers, particularly from South Asia, who are relied on to build the infrastructure across the country. Amnesty International has highlighted the need for deeper investigations into the cause of deaths, the lack of a right to form unions, and the need for all companies to comply with newer laws saying workers should be allowed to leave jobs without the permission of the employer.