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QFA

Saoud Al Mohannadi, vice chairman of Qatar Football Association

A senior Qatari football official has won his appeal against FIFA’s ethics committee, which had banned him from the sport for one year.

Saoud Al-Mohannadi was cleared of allegations that he failed to cooperate with the ethics committee on an undisclosed investigation.

In a statement, FIFA said that there was not enough proof to meet “the comfortable satisfaction of the members of the Appeal Committee” that Al-Mohannadi did anything wrong.

MCaviglia/Wikimedia

FIFA headquarters

It added:

“Therefore, the one-year ban imposed by the adjudicatory chamber on Mr Al-Mohannadi, which entered into force on 16 November 2016, and the fine of CHF 20,000 have been lifted.”

The punishment was imposed against the Qatar Football Association (QFA) Vice-Chairman in November 2016.

The exact nature of any impropriety remains unknown, but FIFA previously said that it was not related to the 2022 World Cup.

QFA had maintained that the charges were “without legitimate basis.”

Elections

Al-Mohannadi, who is also vice president of the Asian Football Confederation, was also prohibited from running for a seat in FIFA’s newly reformed executive committee.

AFC

AFC Extraordinary Congress 2016

Displeased by this, Asia’s top football officials refused to participate in a planned ExCo election in September.

According to Al-Mohannadi’s lawyers, a new election is set for May. However, Reuters reports that he has missed the deadline to stand for these elections.

Thoughts?

QFA/Twitter

Qatar loses to Iran

Barring a miracle, Qatar’s national football team will not be playing in next year’s World Cup in Russia.

The team suffered a 1-0 loss to Iran last night in a home game defeat attended by thousands of fans.

This means Qatar is now at the very bottom of its six-team group, behind China and Syria. Iran meanwhile has moved to first place.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Only the top two teams in the group will automatically qualify for the 2018 tournament.

‘Bad situation’

Acknowledging the implications, Qatar Coach Jorge Fossati told AFP he hadn’t yet done the math, but “for sure we are back in a very bad, bad situation.”

Competing in Russia had been an important goal for Qatar, whose team has never qualified to play in the World Cup.

QFA

Qatar football coach Jorge Fossati

Qatar will automatically get a chance to participate in 2022 because the nation is hosting that tournament.

But in recent history, no team has ever not earned its first chance to compete beforehand.

Rollercoaster

The road to Russia has been a rollercoaster of a ride for the national team, which suffered three straight losses last fall (including to Iran in September).

Spirits were low then, but went up again after Qatar beat Syria in October.

QFA

Qatar and Syria match

Now however, with only four points and a handful of games to go, things look very dire.

The disappointment was palpable last night, when the home crowd booed Iran coach Carlos Queiroz off the field as he blew everyone a kiss, according to AFP.

Thoughts?

MCaviglia/Wikimedia

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.

Mohamad Nuski/Flickr

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.

SCDL

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?