Tag Archives: FIFA

Qatar hires ‘$8 fake fans’ to fill empty stadiums

Jassim Bin Hamad stadium in Doha, Qatar

Migrant workers in Qatar get one dollar an hour for sitting in the stadiums and pretending to have fun, to applaud and to do the wave, AP reports. Sometimes they even were asked to dress like Qataris in white robes and head-scarves.

“Qatar has a true passion for sports. Everything in our country revolves around sport,” Aphrodite Moschoudi, Qatar presenter in 2019 world championships host selection, said in November.

However, Qataris do not attend matches so often. A poll published this year by Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics says two-thirds of Qataris surveyed did not attend any football matches during the previous season, while two-thirds of respondents said fake fans were one of the reasons to keep them away from a stadium.

That is why Qatari officials need someone to fill the empty places in stadiums, according to the Associated Press. 30 Qatari riyals, equivalent to eight American dollars for migrant workers, though, is good money and some of them even enjoy their “work.”

“Shaking my body all over … being in the crowd and shouting and dancing,” Adu, a worker from Ghana told the agency. “Being there and getting paid is a plus for me.”

Besides, some stadiums are equipped with free WiFi networks and workers may send e-mails to relatives and get news from home.

The sportsmen say it is a “bizarre” situation.

“Bizarre, but we prefer that to playing in front of nobody,” French volleyballer Edouard Rowlandson. Officials at FIVB, an international volleyball governing body, said it was news for them.

This is not the first controversial issue concerning 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Earlier this year it was reported that 185 Nepalese workers died in 2013 while building infrastructure for the World Cup and almost 1,000 died since the country was proclaimed the host of championship.

Numerous human rights campaigners denounce the labor conditions currently in the country as being a kind of servitude and say the country’s legislation requires an urgent overhaul.

“Qatar is a modern day slave state,” International Trade Union Confederation’s General Secretary Sharan Burrow told RT.

Qatar uses the Kafala system to govern its domestic migrant workers. The system requires that foreign workers be sponsored by an employer who is responsible for their visa and legal status. Human Rights groups have found evidence that the Kafala system is being manipulated, with employers denying migrants’ wages and refusing to grant them an exit visa to leave the country.

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World Cup Brazil: Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull Perform at Opening Ceremony

Jennifer Lopez sambaed on the stage of the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Cup in Sao Paulo, Brazil Thursday afternoon (June 12), accompanying Pitbull and Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte during a performance of the official song “We Are One.” Leitte, a star in Brazil, appeared first to warm up the crowd before Pitbull and Lopez rose up from the ground onto the small flower-shaped platform.

The three artists seemed hesitant, standing in a circle and waving their arms throughout the short performance. The song was generally met with a tepid response from the crowd, although a roar could be heard when Lopez, in a bust-revealing beaded leotard, sang her solo and showed off some samba steps. Pitbull’s usual outsize persona was muted as he stood in a Brazil shirt and tight cropped white pants; his vocals were drowned out by the Brazilian percussion troupe that provided live accompaniment to the track. Cheers from the crowd in Sao Paulo could be heard as the song ended.

Leitte, in a modest long-sleeved leotard in blue, the color of the Brazilian team’s shorts, acted as a buffer for the crowd in Brazil, where the song has been widely panned, playing cheerleader and rousing the crowd as leading Lopez and Pitbull off the stage to walk near the stands.

With days to go before the opening, FIFA announced the Lopez would not be present for performance because of “production” problems. Lopez later reversed that decision.

Since “We Are One”s debut earlier this year, social media has exploded with complaints that the song was neither “Brazilian enough” nor good enough to be worthy of the World Cup.

The song has been viewed over 75 million times on YouTube, and sold 91,000 downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The opening ceremony, which began about two hours before the inaugural game between Brazil and Croatia, was a simple theatrical spectacle. Pointedly devoid of the sequins and exposed skin stereotypically associated with Brazil, and it was not the kind of big budget extravaganza likely to inflame the wrath of the country’s World Cup protestors. It included a tribute to music of Brazil from different regions, accompanied by dancers in regional costumes and capoeira performers.

Rather than the typical girls in Carnival outfits and drum beats, the 25-minute show opened with stilt walkers dressed as trees and dancers dressed as flowers representing the Amazon, accompanied by rainforest sounds and choral music. In the center of the stadium a “living” LED crystal ball changed colors and images according along with the live action.

Fifa faces call to vote again over 2022 World Cup after leaked Qatari emails

 More than $5m was paid to senior football officials to create support for Qatar’s 2022 bid (Getty)

More than $5m was paid to senior football officials to create support for Qatar’s 2022 bid (Getty)

Fifa is facing calls to rerun the bidding competition for the 2022 World Cup after allegations that a former top Qatari football official paid $5m (£2.98m) to win support for the nation’s campaign to host the event.

Labour said Qatar should lose the 2022 World Cup and urged those involved to resign if the Fifa corruption allegations detailed in the Sunday Times were true. Clive Efford, the shadow sport minister, said the new revelations “called the governance of football into question”.

“No one will have any confidence in a Fifa investigation run by Sepp Blatter,” he said. “If these allegations are true then those involved should resign.”

Lord Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions, described Fifa as a “bit of a cesspit” and suggested there was evidence of a “very serious crime” following the reports.

He told Sky News‘s Murnaghan programme: “The idea of another voting session with all this money sloshing around is almost too much to bear. But on the other hand, if I can pretend to be a prosecutor again for a minute, this is evidence of a very serious crime. And the fact that the allegation is that they used dollars, US dollars, means that the justice department in Washington has jurisdiction over this … the United States of course are in the World Cup finals. If the justice department started to take an interest in this, I think Fifa would feel the heat very, very quickly.”

The Sunday Times said it had obtained millions of emails and other documents relating to alleged payments made by Mohamed bin Hammam, the then Fifa executive member for Qatar. The paper said Bin Hammam, also the former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president, used slush funds to pay out the cash to top football officials to win a “groundswell” of support for Qatar’s World Cup bid.

John Whittingdale, chairman of the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee, called for the bidding competition to be held again and said it would be impossible for Fifa to brush aside the revelations.

“It is a further demonstration of the need for a complete change in the way that Fifa operates but also that there is now an overwhelming case that the decision as to where the World Cup should be held in 2022 should be run again,” Whittingdale told the paper.

The sports minister, Helen Grant, said: “These appear to be very serious allegations. It is essential that major sporting events are awarded in an open, fair and transparent manner.”

The allegations come less than two weeks before the start of the World Cup in Brazil and bring fresh scrutiny on the 2010 vote, which gave football’s biggest tournament to the tiny desert state. The process is under investigation by Fifa’s independent ethics prosecutor, Michael Garcia.

Qatar has also come under fire for its labour laws, in the wake of an international outcry over conditions for migrant workers before the 2022 World Cup, which followed a Guardian investigation into workplace abuse in the Gulf state.

Bin Hammam is no longer a committee member of world football’s governing body after being caught up in a corruption scandal surrounding his failed campaign for its presidency in 2011. The Sunday Times alleged that he exploited his position as an executive committee member to help to secure votes from key members of its 24-man ruling committee that helped Qatar win the right to host the World Cup. Qatar defeated bids from the US, Japan, South Korea and Australia.

According to the newspaper, Bin Hammam used 10 slush funds controlled by his private company and cash handouts to make dozens of payments of up to $200,000 into accounts controlled by the presidents of 30 African football associations who influenced how Africa’s four executive members would vote. He also allegedly hosted lavish junkets for these African officials at which he handed out almost $400,000 in cash.

Last month, Blatter said it had been a mistake to choose Qatar for the World Cup, forcing Fifa to try to limit the damage. “Yes, it was a mistake of course, but one makes lots of mistakes in life,” said Blatter, Fifa’s president, in an interview with the Swiss broadcaster RTS. “The technical report into Qatar said clearly it was too hot but the executive committee – with a large majority – decided all the same to play it in Qatar.”

Blatter, who is standing for another term as president in 2015, is believed to have voted for the USA to host the 2022 World Cup, while his prospective rival for the presidency, Uefa’s Michel Platini, voted for Qatar and has been closely linked with the plans for the 2022 tournament.

The Fifa inspection team ranked Qatar as the only “high-risk” option overall, yet it was still chosen by 14 of the 22 voting members of the executive committee in December 2010. The Fifa president said it was now “probable” that it would be played in the winter rather than the summer due to the heat. Blatter insisted, however, that Qatar, which spent huge sums on ambassadors and development programmes, had not “bought” the World Cup.

Jim Boyce, Fifa vice-president, said he would be in favour of rerunning the vote if allegations that widespread corruption was involved in the bid were proved. Boyce, who was not on the executive committee of the world governing body at the time of the vote, said Garcia, would have to widen his investigation.

Boyce told Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme: “As a member currently of the Fifa executive committee, we feel that any evidence whatsoever that people involved were bribed to do a certain vote, all that evidence should go to Michael Garcia, whom Fifa have given full authority to.

“If Garcia’s report comes up and his recommendations are that wrongdoing happened for that vote for the 2022 World Cup, I certainly as a member of the executive committee would have absolutely no problem whatsoever if the recommendation was for a revote.”

Anna Soubry, minister for defence personnel, welfare and veterans, said: “Somebody somewhere has got to get a serious grip on Fifa about the way that they run these competitions.”

Jim Murphy, the shadow international development secretary, also called for a rethink if the allegations were found to be true.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics: “If these allegations and the contents of the emails that the Sunday Times now has turn out to be true there can be no question about this. The thing wasn’t done fairly, it wasn’t done openly and it would have to be cancelled and rerun entirely. The building that is happening in Qatar should be paused and they should have a fair and open competition.”

Qatar’s World Cup officials said the bid committee had “always upheld the highest standard of ethics and integrity”.

The country’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said: “Mohamed bin Hammam played no official or unofficial role in Qatar’s 2022 bid committee. As was the case with every other member of Fifa’s executive committee, our bid team had to convince Mr Bin Hammam of the merits of our bid.

“We are cooperating fully with Mr Garcia’s ongoing investigation and remain totally confident that any objective inquiry will conclude we won the bid to host the 2022 Fifa World Cup fairly.

“Following today’s newspaper articles, we vehemently deny all allegations of wrongdoing. We will take whatever steps are necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar’s bid and our lawyers are looking into this matter. The right to host the tournament was won because it was the best bid and because it is time for the Middle East to host its first Fifa World Cup.”

Fifa faces call to vote again over 2022 World Cup after leaked Qatari emails | Football | theguardian.com.

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Qatar World Cup toll: ‘Hundreds’ of Indian migrant workers dead in two years

More than 450 Indian migrant workers in Qatar have died in the last two years, media revealed on Monday. Another upcoming report will show that 400 Nepalese have lost their lives scrambling to get the Gulf state ready for the 2022 World cup.

At least 237 Indian migrants lost their lives in Qatar in 2012 and another 218 in 2013 up to December 5, AFP reported on Monday, citing figures received via a Right to Information request filed at the Indian embassy in Qatar.

On average, 20 Indian migrants die per month in Qatar. August last year was the most deadly month on record, with 27 fatalities being reported.

The Indian embassy did not provide information regarding the causes of death or where they occurred. It also declined to disclose any correspondence between the diplomatic mission and the Indian government regarding the treatment of its nationals in the Gulf state.

Meanwhile, figures set to be released later this week say that 400 Nepalese workers have died at building sites since construction for the World Cup 2022 got underway in 2010, the Guardian reports. The Guardian did not state when the deaths occurred, but said that the Pravasi Nepali Co-ordination Committee, a respected human rights organization, which reached its figure using official sources in Doha, would release more information in the coming days.

There were 500,000 Indians estimated to be in Qatar at the end of 2012 – roughly 26 percent of Qatar’s population. Nepalese workers comprise approximately 20 percent of Qatar’s migrant workforce and 16 percent of the total population. The total death toll stemming from the country’s World Cup scramble could in fact be higher, as other migrant groups are also present in the country.

As of January 2012, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans together accounted for 14 percent of the emirate’s population, according to US State Department figures.

On February 11, Qatar issued detailed guidelines intended to protect the country’s massive expatriate community from exploitation and stem the intensified international criticism on its human rights record.

Activists, however, believe the number of dead could swell to 4,000 by the time the 2022 World Cup kicks off.

Construction workers rest during their lunch break in Doha.

On Thursday, FIFA said there was little it could do to alleviate the slave labor conditions migrants are toiling under in the country.

According to German paper Die Welt, however, a source identified as a “senior FIFA employee” said moving the World Cup to another country is “a serious option” despite public claims to the contrary. Last July, Theo Zwanziger, a current member of FIFA’s executive committee, said the decision to award Qatar the 2022 event was a “blatant mistake.”

In September, The United Nations condemned Qatar for failing to comply with an international convention banning the use of forced labor.

Qatar World Cup toll: ‘Hundreds’ of Indian migrant workers dead in two years — RT News.

‘Modern slavery’: Intl delegation decries migrant rights abuses in Qatar — RT News.

Egypt warmly welcomes Brazil football legend Pele

Pele, the Brazilian Football legend also known as “The Black Pearl

Pele, the Brazilian Football legend also known as “The Black Pearl

On his first visit to the country since 1997, Brazil’s Pele arrives in Egypt Saturday amid affectionate public and official reception

Football legend Pele of Brazil was received Saturday at Cairo airport by Egyptian sports officials and fans who converged to welcome the star of Coca-Cola’s promotion campaign for the youth social clubs football league.

The 73-year-old football icon — who last visited Egypt in 1997 to watch the 21 September FIFA World U-17 between Spain and Brazil at Cairo International Stadium — will launch Copa Coca-Cola’s youth tournament from Egypt’s Pyramids Plateau.

At the same stadium 24 years earlier, Pele had also scored twice as part of a powerful Santos side that crushed Cairo giants Ahly 5-0 in a friendly before a packed crowd who were jubilant to watch the prominent star.

Following his meeting with Pele to discuss the start of the country’s football youth tournament, Egypt’s Youth Minister Khaled Abdel-Aziz told reporters “This tournament will help young players join big European teams as well as support national teams in the near future.”

One of the world’s greatest players ever, Pele won three World Cups with Brazil in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

via Egypt warmly welcomes Brazil football legend Pele – World – Sports – Ahram Online.

DLA Piper has received more than $300,in lobbying fees from Al Jazeera

Qatar accused of fudging ‘independent’ inquiry into migrant World Cup workers . Questions are being raised over the law firm asked by Qatar to assess workers’ conditions on World Cup building sites

A top international law firm that was ordered by the Qatari government to conduct an “independent review” into allegations of modern-day slavery at World Cup construction sites is also a paid lobbyist for an arm of Qatar’s Al Jazeera television network, The Telegraph can disclose.

DLA Piper has received more than $300,000 (£186,000) in lobbying fees this year from Al Jazeera America according to official filings in the US, raising questions over whether it could conduct an unbiased assessment into allegations that have cast a pall over preparations for the 2022 World Cup.

The review was instigated in response to claims in The Guardian newspaper that Nepalese workers were dying at the rate of one per day as they toiled in extreme heat on World Cup infrastructure projects.

The story caused an international outcry and Sepp Blatter, head of the football world governing body FIFA, warned on Oct 4 that Qatar “needs to intervene” to address concern over its labour practices – forcing Qatar, which contests the allegations, to launch a public relations offensive.

That same day, Ali Ahmed Al Kholeifi, international affairs director at Qatar’s labour ministry, announced that DLA Piper had been asked “to undertake an independent review of the allegations and provide a report on their veracity to the ministry”.

Qatar accused of fudging ‘independent’ inquiry into migrant World Cup workers – Telegraph.