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The strong face-off between English and Qatar Football Association takes a friendly turn.

Chief of English Football Association, Greg Clarke  signed “Knowledge sharing” memorandum of understanding with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, the body responsible for the 2022 tournament, and the Qatar Football Association (QFA).

The differences between English and Qatar Football were a result of various controversies that surrounded Qatar then, ranging from violation of rights of migrant workers to voting issues for hosting FIFA 2022.

Greg Dyke, then English FA, chief described Qatar being awarded the hosting rights of World Cup as “the worst moment in FIFA’s history”. Qatar was criticised for ignoring labour rights for building FIFA stadium and was considered to be “the best of the bad options” for winning the bid.

After the investigation cleared Qatar for any wrongdoing to win the bid for hosting FIFA 2022 there has been a slight change in the sentiment. Further Qatar’s commitment to International Labour Organisation (ILO) to bring in labour reforms including freedom of workers to change jobs, minimum wages without discrimination and healthy working conditions, can be considered as the major turning point towards the change of heart.

The association is focussed around sharing of ideas experiences and expertise including grassroots football, youth development, women’s football, management and administration with the aim to promote and improve football.

British Ambassador to Qatar, Ajay Sharma, who said: “This will mark the beginning of even deeper cooperation between our two countries, and underlines the UK’s support for Qatar in delivering a successful World Cup 2022.” The association is though a friendly move but is not free from raising important questions regarding human rights.

Qatar has taken a series of steps in the direction already and has shown commitment towards achieving the reforms in spirit. Though it is still under scrutiny from Amnesty International, Human rights groups and various other organisations for successful implementation of committed labour reforms.

However this development is bound to raise both motivation of Qatar to host FIFA 2022 to best of its capabilities without compromising the rights of workers.

 

Qatar was severely criticised by International community and International labour Organization (ILO) in relation to the labour issues including wages, working conditions, health, document confiscation and basic rights. In October 2017, Qatar committed ILO that will work on reforming the scenario.

Since then Qatar has been taking special care towards the condition of workers. Qatar has resolved to keep a check on the strict standards of worker care, developed in consultation with human rights organisations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, according to a new report.

As per a report published by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) and Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) Joint Working Group (JWG) after JWG inspection of four different stadium construction sites and accommodation facilities, the stadiums that will host the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup and the workers’ accommodation in the World Cup projects are strictly adhering to the strict standards of worker care.

JWG, which was formed in 2016 as a contributor on improving labour conditions in Qatar. It met six times during 2017 and made recommendations to improve aspects of working and living conditions, such as better storage systems for workers’ harnesses, improving health record management and providing training to contractors’ medical staff.

The SC took a quick call on working on the recommendations. As per the recent report the positive steps taken as per recommendation is the well-staffed occupational health clinics and the Workers’ Welfare Forums (WWF), set up by the SC to encourage workers to speak openly about any issues they have in relation to their work or accommodation. JWG recognised the importance of free and fair discussions in the WWFs, which are the central element of the grievance mechanisms available to workers.

Apart from strengthening WWFs, BWI will focus on delivering trainings to workers for improving their communication and leadership skills. It will also have training sessions for trainers to improve the overall impact of trainings.

As on now, association of SC with BWI, has achieved considerable improvement on the conditions of workers across World Cup projects. There is a need for consistency in efforts to achieved the desired reformation that is already been checked by JWG, that will be visiting Qatar soon this year for inspection.

 

 

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Qatar hosts nearly 2 million migrant workers, who comprise approximately 95% of its total labour force, of which 40% are construction workers. The percentage of which is expected to increase at construction venues of FIFA 2022 World Cup.

Qatar fell under the radar of International Labour Organisation (ILO) for not addressing the labour concerns including wages, working conditions, health, document confiscation and basic rights. In response to which Qatar committed ILO in October 2017 that it will bring labour reforms addressing the issues.

The reforms though were listed on paper raised scepticism about the implementation but it seems that Qatar has learnt from its past mistakes and has started taking small steps on ground level also, for addressing the labour concerns.

Recently, Qatar Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy’s (SC) under its ongoing nutritional programme, in partnership with Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) educated more than 1,000 construction workers of 2022 FIFA World Cup about eating healthy, at Al Khor Sports Park.

The interactive program was a part two of SC’s Workers’ Welfare Department and the renowned WCM-Q. Proagramme.

The first phase of the programme included health screenings and wide variety of interactive activities such as light exercise, cricket and football matches, healthy cooking demonstrations and healthy takeaway meal were also organised.

The second phase of the nutritional programme aimed to educate the workers and their employers on benefits of healthy lifestyles and balanced diets.

The results of the detailed screenings conducted in the first phase of the programme were taken as a basis for planning the training and awareness activities in the remaining two phases of the program.

SC Workers’ Welfare Department Executive Director Mahmoud Qutub said: “The event at Al Khor Sports Park was a great example of reaching out to workers to talk about the importance of nutrition.”

He further expressed that “We have worked hard since the launch of this programme to educate workers about eating properly and the benefits a healthy lifestyle can bring. It was a great opportunity for workers to hear a bit more about food preparation and intake, and the impact it can have on their health,”

Dr Shahrad Taheri, WCM-Q Professor of Medicine and Assistant Dean for Clinical Investigations, an active member of the programme explained that “We used the day to carry out further health checks and track progress and improvements to workers’ health since phase one. We also demonstrated some of the food options that would make a big difference to their diet.”

The program would have solved the purpose of spreading awareness about healthy eating however it is equally important to evaluate its results through observations and surveys for understanding the overall impact on attitude of both labour and employee, in context to health of the workers.