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FIFA headquarters

A new advisory board with a human rights focus will hold its first meeting with FIFA in Zurich today.

The formation of the independent panel comes as the world’s football governing body fends off international criticism over labor abuses in various countries.

Problems have been found especially in nations that have held and will host the World Cup, including South Africa, Brazil, Qatar and Russia.

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Last year, the author of a report commissioned by FIFA urged it to “consider suspending or terminating” its relationship with World Cup hosts who fail to clean up their human rights records.

The organization has stopped short of committing to that recommendation.

But in a statement this month, FIFA said it will take the new board’s advice seriously when it comes to ensuring that “labour standards, health and safety, property rights, security, discrimination and freedom of expression” are met across its operations.

‘Standing up’ for rights

The panel includes representatives from the United Nations, trade groups and businesses such as Coca Cola.

Human rights groups appear to be cautiously optimistic about the development.

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Workers on Khalifa stadium renovation

Speaking to Doha News, James Lynch, deputy director of global issues at Amnesty International, said the panel “includes a number of credible voices.”

But he expressed concern because the panel’s mandate appears to have changed from one of monitoring and oversight to advising.

He added:

“If FIFA is going to live up to its recent public commitment to take human rights risks as seriously as it does its commercial interests, then it will need to listen very carefully to the advice of this group and act on their recommendations.”

In addition to the new panel, FIFA said it is coordinating closely with Qatar and Russia’s World Cup organizing committees to ensure they are meeting appropriate labor standards.

It added that officials are also working on integrating human rights criteria into the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup.

Thoughts?

Reem Saad / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar could be the last country to solo host the World Cup, as FIFA prepare to accept applications from nations who want to co-host the 2026 games.

Speaking to media yesterday while in Doha, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said the tournament could be held by up to four countries, according to Reuters.

This is because many nations incur a heavy financial toll preparing for and hosting the World Cup.

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Qatar Foundation stadium rendering

Qatar for example is spending a staggering $500 million a week on tournament and infrastructure-related projects ahead of 2022.

“We will encourage co-hosting for the World Cup because we need FIFA to show we are reasonable and we have to think about sustainability long-term,” Infantino said.

Bidding for the games could begin later this year.

White elephants

The question of sustainability has dogged Qatar since it was selected as a World Cup host in 2010.

The country is building most of its stadiums from scratch, as well as hundreds of hotels that could end up sitting empty after the tournament.

Gianni Infantino visits Khalifa International Stadium.

FIFA

FIFA President Gianni Infantino during a 2016 visit to Khalifa International Stadium.

According to BBC, Infantino said he is confident Qatar’s projects will be ready on time. But he added that “a lot remains to be done.”

And previously, Qatar officials have said they don’t want to end up with any “white elephants.”

Instead, the country plans to host several other sporting tournaments to make use of their facilities before and after the World Cup.

Thoughts?

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

Qatar National Sport Day 2015

Happy National Sport Day, everyone!

Here’s our guide to what’s happening around town today, including at Aspire, Katara Cultural Village, the Museum of Islamic Art Park and the Pearl-Qatar. (Medium link is here).

Keep in mind that some things might move indoors due to the weather.

It’s going to be a cloudy morning in Doha, with scattered rains forecast to turn into thunderstorms by nighttime.

Meanwhile, temps are expected to remain warm – it will be between 19C (66F) to 22C (71F) today.

What are your plans for the day? Thoughts?