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All photos courtesy of QFA

There’s still a small chance that Qatar’s national football team will qualify to play in the 2018 World Cup, following last night’s surprise win over South Korea.

Qatar beat its rival 3-2 at Al Sadd Stadium. In a nod to the current Gulf dispute, the national team warmed up in shirts that carried the Emir’s face on them.

And much to residents’ delight, South Korean fans unfurled a “We Love Qatar” banner and waved Qatar flags to express their support for the country.

Coach resigns

Despite the win, Qatar’s coach resigned shortly after the game, according to Reuters.

Jorge Fossati of Uruguay had only been coach for less than a year. He was brought on to replace José Daniel Carreño, who was sacked in September due to the national team’s poor performance.

QFA

Qatar football coach Jorge Fossati

However, under Fossati the team still hasn’t met with much success. And until last night, it was at the very bottom of its six-team group, behind China and Syria.

The victory does buy it a little more time to try to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia. This is an important goal for Qatar, whose team has never qualified to play in the tournament.

Focusing on homegrown talent

It remains unclear why Fossati wishes to leave, though Qatar Football Association officials are expected to try to persuade him to stay, Reuters said.

However, in November, the coach did say he would resign if the federation decides to turn its focus to grooming homegrown players, instead of importing talent.

Reem Saad / Doha News

National team

At the time, he said:

“If the federation wants to go another way, I’ll respect its decision 100 percent. And it’ll be better for the Qatar national team to have another coach who supports that view.”

The national’s teams last two matches will be against Syria and China at the end of August and beginning of September.

Thoughts?

UCI

UCI Road World Championships

More than 100 staff hired on temporary contracts during the UCI Road World Championships in Doha last October have still not been paid, Doha News has learned.

The employees have been told via email that their payments are late due to “unforeseen reasons” faced by the event’s local organizing committee (LOC).

The unpaid event staff were employed in a wide range of roles, from official journalists and photographers, to drivers and catering staff.

UCI Road World Championships/Twitter

2016 UCI Road World Championships

The workers, many of whom were employed by the LOC for more than a month, all had official contracts.

The race took place from Oct. 9 to 16 last year, and the employees expected payment for their work to follow shortly after the race finished.

The issue of late or non-existing payments is a long-standing one in Qatar and across the Gulf.

Qatar has been working to address this with a new Wage Protection System, but the problem persists.

‘Lost hope’

One of the 130 unpaid employees is owed QR6,000 for 13 days’ work.

He told Doha News that many of his former colleagues have gradually “lost hope” of ever being paid.

Simon Chan/Flickr

UCI Road World Championships 2016

The Doha resident, who asked not to be identified, said that a large group of staff had initially met to discuss their options.

They considered making official complaints with the Labor Court and the police, but gradually many members of the group gave up trying, he said.

He added that efforts to contact UCI management via email, Whatsapp and phone over the past several weeks proved fruitless.

“I went to the Qatar Sports Club (the LOC admin base) in person twice, but I always got the same response – insh’Allah (God willing),” he said.

‘No money left’

In an email to colleagues, another former unpaid employee summarized the group’s predicament:

“It has affected the lives of many of us and put us in a situation which is psychologically stressful – cancellation or postponement of personal or professional projects, difficulties to pay monthly rentals and/or loans, and unnecessary stress and worries.”

According to this email, unpaid employees had apparently been told by administration staff that the LOC had “no money left.”

Adam Hodges

Tour of Qatar 2016

Indeed, a few months after holding the UCI World Championships, officials said they would not be hosting the 2017 Tour of Qatar due to financial troubles.

That meant 2017 was the first time in 16 years that Qatar did not hold the men’s cycling event.

Apology – but no pay

Some UCI staff said they were promised that their salaries would eventually be paid by the Qatari government.

But then in March this year, the event’s organizers sent out an email to all unpaid employees promising payment soon.

Ray Toh / Doha News

UCI Road World Championships 2016

In the note, an unnamed HR manager at the LOC said:

“We would like to apologize for the delay in paying your financial dues due to unforeseen reasons by the organizing committee.

We would like to assure you that once we receive the financial resource dedicated for these payments, which we are expecting shortly, we will immediately pay your financial dues.”

The email also asked the former employees “not to consider any message” about the payments that was not sent to them from an official UCI source.

However, at the end of May, the staff have still not been paid.

Doha News attempted to reach various members of the Doha UCI LOC via email about this story over the past several weeks. But no one has replied to any of the messages.

Requests for comment from the UCI headquarters and the Ministry of Culture and Sports have also gone unanswered.

Thoughts?

Ray Toh / Doha News

IAAF Diamond League opener 2016

Qatari Olympic high jumper Mutaz Barshim will be among several star athletes competing in the 2017 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha next month.

The event opens on May 5 at 6pm at the Qatar Sports Club, and includes both men and women’s races, as well as pole vault, shot put and other events.

Here’s the full schedule.

Barshim, who won Qatar’s first silver medal at the Rio Olympics, is one of 13 Qatari athletes who will compete in the season opener.

They will be joined by a host of world-class athletes from around the world, including:

  • Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica, who will be competing in the 200m;
  • Three-time world champion and Beijing 2008 Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, who will run the men’s 1,500m; and
  • The “fastest man in Asia,” Nigeria’s Femi Ogunde, who will run the 100m.

If you’d like to see the stars in action, tickets for the event are on sale now online. Prices start at QR40 per person.

Home turf

In a statement, Barshim said that he is excited to appear in front of a home crowd during one of his first competitions of the season.

Mutaz Barshim/Twitter

Mutaz Barshim

“Competing at home makes it very special. It is such a great thing, a great atmosphere, especially in Doha,” he said.

However, the 25-year-old added that his “main focus” this season is the World Championships in London in August, where he’s hoping to win his first ever gold medal.

Qatar’s team

Thirteen Qatari athletes will compete at the meeting in all, including fellow Olympians Ahmed Bedeer in the javelin and sprinter Femi Ogunode in the 100m.

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Ahmed Badeer

Qatar is also fielding some new talent at the event, with both 22-year-old Abdulrahman Samba and 19-year-old Mohamed Shaib competing in the 400m hurdles.

Samba, an Aspire Academy graduate, came first at the Sasol-NWU International athletics meeting in March in South Africa with a time of 48.31 seconds. So hopes are high that the 22-year-old will do well in Doha.

Do you plan to check out the competition? Thoughts?