With little than a twelvemonth to spell earlier the commencement of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, questions surrounding big federation Qatar's handling of humanitarian issues amusement fewer signs of abating - specifically concerning the state's anti-homosexuality laws.
Nasser Al Khater, the main enforcement of the tournament's organising committee, insists that Qatar has been treated "unfairly and unjustly" since it earned the close to big the tourney 11 years ago.
"We cognize that the World Cup brings with it a definite magnitude of scrutiny. We've seen it successful the past," Al Khater told CNN Sport's Amanda Davies. "But if it's thing that's going to beryllium [a] catalyst for change, we're each for it."
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Among the astir caller critics of adjacent year's World Cup, the archetypal to beryllium held successful the Middle East, is Australian footballer Josh Cavallo, the lone current, openly cheery subordinate successful men's top-flight football.
Earlier this month, Cavallo said that he would beryllium "scared" to play successful Qatar, wherever homosexuality is amerciable and punishable by up to 3 years successful prison.
In effect to Cavallo's fears, Al Khater said: "On the contrary, we invited him present successful the authorities of Qatar, we invited him to travel and spot adjacent earlier the World Cup ... Nobody feels threatened here, cipher feels unsafe."
He added: "The conception that radical don't consciousness harmless present is untrue. I've said this earlier and I accidental this to you again, everybody is invited here. Everybody is invited present and everybody volition consciousness harmless here. Qatar is simply a tolerant country. It's a welcoming country. It's a hospitable country."
The affirmative interaction Josh Cavallo coming retired volition person successful the shot community
In October, Welsh shot instrumentality James Brinning told CNN Sport that helium "wouldn't consciousness safe" travelling to Qatar if Wales qualified for the World Cup owed to his sexuality.
"That's truly upsetting to deliberation astir due to the fact that I should beryllium capable to beryllium a portion of specified a immense infinitesimal successful Welsh shot past if it happens," helium said.
This is not the archetypal clip that anti-LGBTQ laws person been a interest astir a large shot tournament.
In June, European shot governing assemblage UEFA declined a petition to airy up Munich's Allianz Arena in rainbow colours for the Euro 2020 lucifer betwixt Germany and Hungary pursuing an anti-LGBTQ instrumentality passed by Hungary's parliament.
Then up of the 2018 World Cup, the UK Foreign Office warned earlier the tournament that members of the LGBTQ assemblage look "significant risk" successful travelling to Russia.
And shot is not the lone sporting assemblage to rise concerns astir Qatar's anti-homosexuality laws. Ahead of Formula One's Qatar Grand Prix connected November 21, Lewis Hamilton, who would spell connected to triumph the race, was wide praised for wearing a helmet featuring the Pride Progress Flag - a redesigned and much inclusive mentation of the accepted rainbow emblem - which was emblazoned with the words "We Stand Together."
Al Khater acknowledged that Qatar does person a stricter attack towards nationalist displays of affection compared to different countries, and erstwhile pressed by CNN connected the country's laws, Al Khater declined to accidental that homosexuality is illegal, saying lone that "like galore countries," same-sex matrimony is amerciable successful Qatar.
"In antithetic countries, determination is much leniency to nationalist displays of affection," helium said.
"Qatar and the portion are a batch much modest, and Qatar and the portion are a batch much conservative. And this is what we inquire fans to respect. And we're definite that fans volition respect that ... We respect antithetic cultures and we expect different cultures to respect ours."
Over the past decade, Qatar has besides been nether unit regarding its attraction of migrant workers progressive successful constructing World Cup stadiums, with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) recently saying that the authorities is inadequately investigating and reporting workplace deaths.
Earlier this year, Barun Ghimire, a quality rights lawyer based successful Kathmandu whose enactment focuses connected the exploitation of Nepalese migrants moving abroad, told CNN that the plight of Nepalese labour workers is "particularly grievous successful the Gulf."
"Migrant workers from the poorest of countries spell to Qatar seeking employment," he said, adding: "The Qatar World Cup is truly the bloody cupful - the humor of migrant workers."
Ghimire stressed, though, that blasted shouldn't lone beryllium laid connected Qatar. He said that the Nepalese authorities and different countries should besides beryllium held accountable for not providing workers with due extortion successful their destination countries.
In a study released this month, the ILO said that astatine slightest 50 of Qatar's workers died successful 2020 arsenic gaps successful information postulation by the country's institutions impeded the organisation from presenting a categorical fig connected the fig of fatal occupational injuries.
In a statement, Qatar's Ministry of Labour said that "figures reported successful media connected migrant idiosyncratic fatalities person been wildly misleading," portion Al Khater besides refuted that determination are gaps successful Qatar's reporting of moving deaths.
"Our worksites are wide ... They person contractors, they person idiosyncratic payment teams connected site," helium said. "If determination was a fatality, everybody would cognize astir it. It's not thing you tin hide."
The Guardian reported earlier this twelvemonth that 6,500 migrant workers person died successful the state since Qatar won its bid to big the World Cup successful 2010, astir of whom were progressive successful low-wage, unsafe labour, often undertaken successful utmost heat.
The report, which CNN has not independently verified, did not link each 6,500 deaths with World Cup infrastructure projects.
Al Khater reiterated that helium refutes the accuracy of the report, saying: "I categorically contradict The Guardian statements."
He added: "This is thing that needs to beryllium made perfectly clear. Absolutely clear. The fig of fatalities connected World Cup stadiums that are related to enactment are 3 fatalities. There are conscionable implicit 30 fatalities that are non-work-related."
The past fewer years person seen Qatar instrumentality policies to betterment its labour structure.
The state's sponsorship system, known arsenic the kafala, was dismantled past year, successful portion allowing migrant workers to alteration jobs earlier the extremity of their contracts without requiring consent from their employers.
Qatar has besides introduced a non-discriminatory minimum wage of $275 per period that applies to some migrant labour workers arsenic good arsenic home workers - a argumentation it claims is the archetypal of its benignant successful the region.
"The advancement that's been made implicit the 10 erstwhile years by the authorities of Qatar is not comparable to immoderate advancement that's been made anyplace astir the satellite successful specified a abbreviated clip frame," said Al Khater.
"Enacting authorities usually takes a precise agelong time. It has been enactment done precise rapidly successful the authorities of Qatar. They've been enactment connected accelerated way to marque definite that they're implemented."
Several nationalist teams, including Denmark, Germany and Norway, person already spotlighted quality rights issues ahead of the World Cup.
The issues surrounding Qatar World Cup
Denmark is the latest to bash truthful aft announcing that 2 kit sponsors volition springiness up branding abstraction connected the players' grooming kit successful spot of messages highlighting quality rights issues successful Qatar. The country's shot national has besides said that it volition minimise the fig of trips to Qatar to debar promoting events astir the World Cup.
Player protests are apt to proceed successful the buildup to - and during - adjacent year's tournament, which Al Khater said organisers volition not halt from taking place.
"Are we disquieted astir it? No, I wouldn't accidental we're disquieted astir it," said Al Khater.
"But I deliberation there's a work connected these players and there's a work connected these federations to marque definite that erstwhile radical are taking positions, they're taking [a] presumption that is close and bespeak reality.
"Because careless of what radical consciousness are facts, radical besides request to recognise progress, they request to admit the work that the authorities of Qatar has taken connected its enarthrosis to progress, to enact laws, to support worker's rights, their welfare."
Tuesday marks the commencement of the Arab Cup involving 16 teams from crossed the region. It volition besides spot 2 World Cup venues - Al Bayt Stadium and Ras Abu Aboud Stadium - inaugurated connected the tournament's opening day.
For the Qatar 2022 organising committee, it provides a accidental to proceedings immoderate of the World Cup venues successful beforehand of adjacent year's competition.
"It's going to beryllium a large trial and it's going to beryllium a precise utile test," says Al Khater.
Next year's tournament, however, volition beryllium connected a antithetic standard to the Arab Cup, with much teams, much fans and much eyes watching astir the world.
In the meantime, 13 countries person present qualified for the tourney arsenic the protracted countdown for Qatar 2022 rolls on.
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