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Feb 16, 2014

'Qatar could lose 2022 World Cup'

FIFA executive committee member Theo Zwanziger says the current health and safety conditions in Qatar are unacceptable.

A high-ranking FIFA employee has been quoted as telling the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that taking the 2022 World Cup away from Qatar is a “serious option.”

The employee, who was not named by the paper, said the final meeting of FIFA's Executive Committee this year would be decisive in determining whether it can take place in the Gulf state, adding: “That would allow enough time for the tournament to be reassigned.”

The decision in 2010 to award the World Cup to Qatar has provoked significant controversy.

A “workers’ charter” was announced in recent days to protect migrant employees who have been brought in to build infrastructure, but The Observer published an editorial on Sunday that said “at least 400 labourers have died on Qatar's building sites as the nation's prepares to host the World Cup” and that is “only a fraction of the true number of lives lost.”

There have also been serious concerns raised over the temperatures in the Gulf state. FIFA has insisted no decision has yet been made as to whether the World Cup will be moved to the winter, but the organisation’s secretary general, Jerome Valcke, has said it will not be played in June-July and president Sepp Blatter also favours a change in schedule.

Yet moving the tournament presents a number of obstacles, including disruption to domestic leagues, a clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics and potential objections from TV broadcasters.

The FIFA employee added: “We have our backs against the wall in terms of finding the right date. There isn’t a solution in sight, even if the tournament does not take place in the summer.”

Die Welt am Sonntag adds that a report into potential corruption in the World Cup voting process is due to be released this year. Qatar has firmly denied any wrongdoing.

Despite the concerns, the chairman of FIFA's medical committee, Michel D'Hooghe, told the German newspaper that “all problems will be solved” and said: “We still have eight years left.”

That, according to the article, is the general feeling among many members of FIFA’s Executive Committee, and D'Hooghe added: “The 2022 World Cup is a huge chance for Qatar.”

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