Qatar is “taking real steps” to improve human rights and workers’ welfare, according to FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
Infantino made the statement as tournament organisers celebrate the one-year countdown to the World Cup, providing an update on preparations for the event.
Staging the event in Qatar has led to criticism with reports of human rights abuses linked to the construction of venues.
Countries have been urged to boycott the World Cup by campaigners due to the treatment of migrant workers.
But Infantino said he had been encouraged by the work that has gone in Qatar to improve conditions.
“We will enjoy being all together in one place,” said Infantino.
“Fans will be treated to top-class football in eight state-of-the-art stadiums.
“We are looking forward to the opportunity to bring people from different backgrounds together.
“What I see here is a country that is preparing to welcome the whole world, and every fan, but also looking into where improvements are needed and taking real steps to do so in many different areas, particularly in relation to human rights and workers’ welfare.”
Qatar 2022 has also issued a report at the one-year-to-go milestone which underlines its responsibility to “ensure that human rights are respected in all activities associated with its operations”.
It claims the World Cup has made a “significant contribution to improved labour conditions” in Qatar courtesy of the Workers’ Welfare programme put in place by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is responsible for delivering tournament infrastructure.
Organisers insist there had been a “major collective effort” from local authorities and the International Labour Organization to achieve wider legislative change in workers’ rights.
Among the changes include a “region-first permanent minimum wage” and the scrapping of “no objection certificates”, signalling the end of the kafala system which forces migrant workers to ask their employer for permission to change jobs or leave the country.
“FIFA will continue to push for greater protection of workers and promote the implementation of wider labour reforms in Qatar through constructive dialogue with the Qatari authorities and joint efforts with other stakeholders.
“FIFA has no doubt that the event will leave a lasting legacy and will serve as a catalyst for broader positive social change in the host country and across the region.”-insidethegames