U.K.'s Sebastian Coe Says FIFA Should Fully Investigate Corruption Allegations
British Olympic Association Chair Sebastian Coe has warned of the dangers of FIFA "failing to fully investigate allegations of corruption over the vote to determine the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup," according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. Coe said that "it was vital the body was seen to be beyond reproach." Coe: “I think we have to accept that everything in sport is based on confidence. But fair play is not a concept entirely and uniquely rooted in the field of play. It comes from the very top of every organization." FIFA "has been dogged by allegations of corruption in recent years," with trust in the organization among the wider public "thought to be at an all-time low." Coe: “All organizations go through really difficult times” (TELEGRAPH, 3/26).
LABOR LAW DISPUTE: REUTERS' Amena Bakr reported Qatar "has promised to improve its labor laws." Richard Howitt, a member of the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights who visited Doha this week as part of efforts to help Qatar reform its labor laws, said that Qatari officials "were working on new legislation to improve conditions for foreign workers in the Gulf Arab state." Howitt: "It's been a very constructive visit. I met with officials who said that we should be hearing about new announcements which include laws to protect domestic workers by this summer... Change is imminent." Howitt said that he had also urged Qatari officials to abolish the "kafala" or "sponsorship" system that allows sponsors to hold guest workers' passports for the duration of their contracts. He said the Qatari's said that they were "planning to introduce some changes into this system but gave no specific time frame." Howitt also said that execs from European construction companies he met in Qatar "admitted to having laxer workers' welfare standards there compared with their operations in Europe." Howitt: "European companies and the private sector have to take the lead in providing better conditions for workers, and this is something that I had discussed with them" (REUTERS, 3/26).
RUSSIA'S PREPARATIONS: R-SPORT reported Russia World Cup Chief Organizer Alexei Sorokin said that all 12 arenas for the 2018 World Cup "will be ready by fall of the previous year." Delivering the stadiums, all of which are being built from scratch or undergoing major refurbishments, months in advance "would be in stark contrast to Brazil, where organizers are struggling to build everything in time" for the June 12 opening match. Sorokin said, "There is no doubt that by autumn of 2017 we will come out with all the stadiums totally prepared." The country is spending nearly $20B on the stadiums and associated infrastructure, "with about half expected to come as private investment" (R-SPORT, 3/26).