Boss of the Qatar World Cup: the tournament has “changed the perception of this part of the world” | world news

Qatar World Cup chief Hassan Al Thawadi said the tournament had changed perceptions of the region and transformed his country.

He also insisted there should be recognition for improving workers’ rights after previously “unacceptable” conditions.

Mr Al Thawadi told Sky News: “Progress will not stop at the final whistle.”

Lusail – the centerpiece of the £150billion-plus World Cup project – will host the showdown between Argentina and France to conclude the first World Cup staged in the Middle East.

“It was a celebration of the Arab people, of our culture, of our tradition, of our history,” Al Thawadi said in an interview in Doha.

“People may have come in with different opinions.

“And I’ve heard a lot of people, especially Europeans, saying maybe they came to support the team – but with concern, a bit of concern.

“But when they engaged with the Qatari community, when they engaged with the Arab community, when they engaged with hospitality, a lot of them came away with a different opinion, a point of different view.

“And to that extent, it was a platform to bring people together in an unprecedented way.”

Photo: AP

Mr Al Thawadi was speaking in his only interview on the eve of the final – the culmination of a 12-year journey since winning a bold bid, battling threats to the investigative tournament and diplomatic instability regional until delivery of the event.

“It changed the perception of this part of the world,” he said. “And it also allowed us to show the best of us.”

But the tragedies and suffering of low-wage migrant workers will forever be associated with this World Cup, although the tournament is seen as a catalyst for improving working conditions and rights, including the introduction of a minimum wage.

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Have human rights been abandoned in Qatar?

Mr Al Thawadi said: “The country recognized the need for reforms as the condition was unacceptable and the laws were put in place.”

There were 414 fatalities on the wider Qatari infrastructure from 2014 to 2020, but only three occurred during stadium construction. But there were two deaths in accidents at World Cup-related venues during the tournament.

“There is a worker support insurance fund that will look into all matters relating to unfortunate deaths,” Mr Al Thawadi said. “And that will continue beyond the World Cup.”

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Bringing the World Cup to Qatar highlighted discriminatory laws. There were assurances that LGBT fans would be protected, but some were stopped by security with rainbow hats and t-shirts removed.

“Some fans have unfortunately encountered problems,” Mr Al Thawadi said.

“I think some people in charge of security may have made a decision at the time to see what was best, whether it was for fear of potential tensions inside the stadium or not.”

There is resistance to the decriminalization of homosexual relations in the Muslim nation.

“It’s something that is part of our religious values,” Mr Al Thawadi said.

“It’s something that a lot of countries share the same common values… more communal values, as opposed to the predominant set of values ​​that are personal rights.

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Qatar World Cup History

“I think people are aware that we have differences of opinion. But I think it’s important to emphasize that we have to find ways to respect each other’s opinions and find a way to move forward. before. And that’s what this World Cup has shown.”

There was a brief reaction – particularly from some Europeans – after Qatar banned the sale of alcohol in stadiums two days before the opening of the World Cup.

But reducing opportunities for fans to drink before games is credited with creating a more welcoming environment for Muslim families and supporters in the region and beyond.

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Croatian fans celebrate their victory

Mr Al Thawadi said: “I think cultural understanding is extremely important these days.

“We are people from different backgrounds, who belong to different communities and who have different values.

“But I think we have to be able to find ways to express our disagreement with each other.

“But at the same time being able to walk away, having disagreed but not conflicted.

“Having disagreed but respecting each other’s opinion and finding ways to come together and coexist together.”


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