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Infantino says ‘all welcome’ as Qatar begins one-year countdown

DOHA, Nov 21 (Reuters) – FIFA President Gianni Infantino insisted that “all are welcome in Qatar” on Sunday as a digital countdown clock went on show in Doha to mark one yr till the opening of the controversial 2022 soccer World Cup, the primary to be held within the Middle East.

The opening match will happen subsequent Nov. 21 within the 60,000 capability Al Bayt Stadium. learn extra

The head of soccer’s world governing physique urged LGBTQ soccer followers and all others to attend the match and “engage and speak and convince” in a bid to affect the Gulf Arab state’s insurance policies.

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“We cannot think that if we stay home and just criticize things will change. Things have improved. Things will continue to improve,” he stated.

At the occasion on Sunday evening, soccer stars like David Beckham and Samuel Eto’o watched a drone show from a jetty in Doha’s West Bay as organisers promised a “spectacular” match.

But on the sidelines officers have been on the defensive about key points which have dogged the match for years like Qatar’s anti-LGBTQ legal guidelines, the welfare of migrant staff and allegations of corruption.

Nasser Al Khater, CEO of the 2022 World Cup, defended the nation’s document in a digital roundtable with reporters Saturday evening.

“Qatar has been unfairly treated and scrutinized I think, unfairly treated for a number of years,” Al Khater stated.

He denied allegations by the U.S. Department of Justice that bribes had been paid to safe votes when Qatar was awarded the internet hosting rights in 2010.

He additionally defended the nation’s progress on human rights, pointing to current labour reforms, however cautioning that there’s extra work to do.

Amnesty International just lately stated these labour reforms haven’t improved staff’ lives and that practices like withholding salaries and charging staff to vary jobs have been nonetheless commonplace. Qatar’s authorities rejected Amnesty’s findings.

On Friday, the International Labour Organisation said Qatar was inadequately investigating and reporting the deaths of staff within the nation.

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Reporting by Andrew Mills; Editing by Hugh Lawson

FIFA President Gianni Infantino gestures during his visit to Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela October 15, 2021. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

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