Qatar’s foreign minister has lashed out at ongoing criticism of his country’s plans to hold the World Cup in 2022, saying that plans to reform the Gulf state’s labour laws were “on track”.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Khalid Al Attiyah said he was confident that the event would take place, despite a series of investigations being carried out by US and Swiss authorities into corruption at FIFA, the body that decides where World Cups are hosted.
Al Attiyah said that the event would be “the best World Cup ever” and hinted that criticism of Qatar’s bid was motivated by racism.
"Some parties cannot digest that a small, Arabic state ... is hosting such an event, as if our region, our Arab region is not entitled to have such an event," he said.
His comments follow those of Qatar’s former prime minister, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Al Thani, who told Fox News in May that: “I support, of course, Russia to have their turn in 2018. But if you see the talks, it's all about Qatar.
“Is it because it's an Arab, Islamic, small country? That's the feeling of the people in the region.”
Al Attiyah also confirmed that new amendments to Qatar’s labour laws would be in place by the end of the year. The country’s traditional ‘kafala’ sponsorship system in place at present has long been criticised by human rights groups and trade unions as it places tough restrictions on migrant workers.
"It is on the right track, and it will happen. We are serious about doing reforms," he said.
In June, the Qatari government said that laws governing the entry and exit of expat workers in Qatar are to be revised by the end of this year.
In a statement issued to media, the government also pledged to clamp down on “dishonest recruitment practices” in the home countries of Qatar’s thousands of expat workers.
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