World soccer body FIFA's creation of a watchdog to monitor the living and working conditions of migrant labour employed on World Cup 2022-related construction sites constitutes the second time in a month that Qatar has been warned that it needs to demonstrate sincerity in its reform of the Gulf state's controversial labour system.
International trade unions have stepped up pressure on Qatar with a series of demands, a majority of which the Gulf state could implement without having to reform its autocracy or threaten the privileged position of its citizenry who account for a mere 12 percent of the population and fear that change could cost them control of their culture and society.
Embattled World Cup host Qatar is sending contradictory messages as it struggles with demands to improve migrant labour conditions and mounting questions about the integrity of its successful FIFA bid, confronts the fall-out of dropping energy prices, and seeks to project itself as both a key Western ally and a useful conduit to more militant Islamist forces.
A Swiss government-sponsored unit of the Paris-based OECD has defined world soccer body FIFA as a multi-national bound by the group's guidelines. As a result, the group concluded that FIFA is responsible for the upholding of the human and labour rights of workers employed in Qatar on 2022 World Cup-related projects.
By justifying the call on theological grounds and drawing on a parable of Omar Ibn al-Khattab, one of the 7th century's first four successors of the Prophet Mohammed, widely viewed by even the most conservative or militant Muslims as the righteous caliphs, Sheikh Ali Al Qaradaghi made it more difficult for Qatar and other Gulf states to justify evading radical labor reforms.
World Cup host Qatar is discovering the reputational risk involved in hosting high-profile mega sporting events. Qatar Airways' sponsorship of FC Barcelona is producing exactly the kind of publicity that is a corporate sponsor's worst nightmare while a Swiss investigation of the Qatari World Cup bid threatens to expose questionable financial dealings that will fuel demands for withdrawing the tournament from the Gulf state.