Baku 2015 organisers held a press conference, with the focus on beach soccer – and its possible future inclusion in the Olympic Games.
Qatar’s pledge to abolish its controversial “kafala” labour system by the end of 2015 is in doubt after Doha’s main consultative body expressed serious concerns about proposed reforms.
Despite expectations that Qatar was close to announcing the end of “kafala”, the country’s Shura Council said a draft law could not yet be introduced and needed further examination, according to the Arabic-language newspaper Al Sharq.
The council’s chairman Mohammed bin Mubarak al-Khulaifi also said there was “no need to hurry” in introducing the reforms, despite the government saying earlier this year that “kafala” would almost certainly be scrapped by December.
The council also appeared to propose introducing other reforms, including punishing foreign workers who “deliberately” create problems.
Government officials confirmed that further consultations would take place on the proposed changes to the system, which governs Qatar’s vast army of foreign workers.
— Mr. Manny (@MannysMusings) June 15, 2015
It means the timetable set in May by the country’s minister of labour and social affairs could now be in doubt.
Abdullah bin Saleh al-Khulaifi said then that he was “90 percent” certain the “kafala” system, which critics have likened to modern-day slavery, would be replaced by new legislation by the end of this year.
“Kafala” has been widely blamed for enabling the abuse of foreign workers, especially labourers involved in the country’s vast infrastructure projects, at the hands of unscrupulous bosses.
The Shura Council said it wants to keep a two-year ban on issuing new papers to expat workers who leave Qatar after the cancellation of their work visa.
Any new law should not allow foreign workers to change jobs more than twice, it said.
And it wants to include a provision that any foreign worker who deliberately creates problems for employers should not be allowed to change jobs.
The planned law would force problematic employees to work with the same employer for double the length of the contract, which could mean up to 10 years, as compensation.
There are an estimated 1.6 million migrant labourers working in Qatar, but that number is set to top two million ahead of the football World Cup in 2022.
The potential delay comes despite international criticism of Qatar’s labour laws and the slow pace of reform.
Preparations of 2022 FIFA world cup in Qatar . see the beautiful fabulous awesome grounds in qatar. i like it pic.twitter.com/JLbg5R1ogj
— Majeed Mahmood (@MajeedMahmood2) June 20, 2015
– ‘Regressive proposals’ –
Amnesty International voiced its surprise over Qatar’s announcement.
“These are very regressive proposals which would further restrict the rights of migrant workers,” Amnesty’s Mustafa Qadri told AFP.
“We would think that this is the time for Qatar to show leadership and respect rights and the rule of law. This seems to be going in a completely different direction.”
Up to today, 1,200 people have died working in Qatar world cup stadium. Only 2 people died when working for the S. Africa 2010 world cup.
— Hannibal (@mokayah) June 21, 2015
Qadri added that the issue of reform “is not going away” and said that “global attention” would remain on Qatar.
Any delay in reform is likely to lead to yet more criticism of the decision to allow Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.
The latest development comes as the country is under the spotlight in the fallout from corruption allegations which have engulfed football’s governing body, FIFA.
Last week Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber said prosecutors were investigating 53 cases of possible money laundering as they look into FIFA’s handling of bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Senior FIFA official Domenico Scala has said there could be a revote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups if there was evidence of wrongdoing in the bidding process.
It's the height of summer and for football that means that transfer rumours and news are coming thicker and faster than a Dubai sandstorm.
– #360view: Simeone quietly building elite Atletico squad
– #360business: Premier League comes to terms with FFP
Here, Sport 360 looks at five players that could be heading to, and away from, Asian clubs over the coming months.
Didier Drogba (free agent) – The legendary Chelsea striker is currently a free agent and, while the United States is seen as a likelier move, there is interest from some of West Asia's biggest clubs. The Ivorian had a torrid six months in Asia with Shanghai Shenhua in 2012-13, but that is unlikely to detract potential suitors in the region. Even at 37, Drogba would still terrify defenders on the continent.
Jon Obi Mikel (Chelsea, England) – The out of favour Chelsea midfielder is only 28 and there are already rumours that he could be heading to these parts. The Nigerian recently followed Al Ain on twitter, leading many media outlets to assume that talks were taking place with some jumping the gun and claiming that terms had been agreed between the club and player. Al Ain have since played down those reports but other clubs in the AGL retain an interest.
Cristian Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid, Spain) – Rodriguez is currently busy with Uruguay at the Copa America but reports in South America and West Asia have suggested a move to Al Nasr could be on the horizon. The Dubai club has admitted their interest in the 29-year-old winger who boasts a wealth of experience both in South America and Europe, having played for illustrious clubs such as Porto, PSG, Benfica and, currently, Atletico Madrid. Failed loan spells in Serie A with Parma and Brazil at Gremio may see the lure of a permanent deal in the Middle East too much to resist.
Robinho (AC Milan, Italy) – One-time most expensive player in Britain, the Brazilian has struggled to fulfil his immense since leaving Real Madrid in 2010. The AC Milan forward is currently on-loan at boyhood club Santos and has been linked with a move to Bani Yas. Fans will have to wait until five time world champions Brazil finish their Copa America duties for clarity on his future and any move to the UAE would be huge for the AGL.
Yun Il-lok (FC Seoul, South Korea) – The 23 year-old broke into the national team in 2013 and initially impressed but the clever forward is cursed by inconsistency. On his day, he can be devastating but it doesn't come often enough. A move may just be what the doctor ordered and there has been reported interest from the United States and Qatar. He could prove a very interesting signing.
Nam Tae-hee (Lekhwiya, Qatar) -The South Korean has impressed in Qatar since joining Lekhwiya in 2012 and while the attacking midfielder has not quite become an automatic starter for his country, he is now a regular member of the squad. There is growing interest in the 23 year-old in Europe and China and the departure of Michael Laudrup as coach will not help Lekwhiya’s cause in retaining their star man.
Omar Al Soma (Al Ahli, Saudi Arabia) – The powerful Syrian striker almost joined former European champions, Nottingham Forest back in 2012 but struggled with work permit issues. Since then, the 26-year-old has been scoring for fun in Saudi Arabia, ending the season as top-scorer in the Pro League with 22 goals. This has sparked interest from French and Belgian clubs and the time seems right for Soma to make the move to Europe and test himself against bigger and better opposition.
Humam Tariq (Al Ahli, UAE) – The teenage Iraqi star ended his loan spell with Al Dhafra earlier this month and could be on his way to Turkey. Bursapor finished sixth in the league last season and could be a good move for the talented 18 year-old midfielder and a platform for bigger and better things. Tariq, a star in his home country, will struggle for playing time at Al Ahli with the club set on completing their foreign quota of players with some much needed firepower up front.
Ehsan Hajsafi (Sepahan, Iran) – A versatile player who can do a job at left-back or, preferably, further up the pitch, the 25-year-old showed as a teenager he had plenty of talent. Hajsafi has been linked to various European moves in the past but as he approaches his peak, there is a feeling that it is now or never. There has already been serious interest this summer from Bochum, a German club that has played host to Iranian legionnaires such as Vahid Hashemian in the past.
Hamza Al Dardour, (Al Khaleej, Saudi Arabia) – One of the brightest attacking talents in West Asia, the 24-year-old has quickly become Jordan's most potent threat. Authorities in the country have decided to try and get more of their stars playing in Europe and there are none better than this diminutive forward who buzzes behind defences and has an eye for goal. There has been talk of interest from Spain and while the top tier would be a tough nut to crack, it could be a great opportunity for Al Dardour.