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Qatar plans unaffected by FIFA move: organizers

FIFA President Sepp Blatter adjusts his glasses as he addresses the media after a meeting of the executive committee in Zurich October 4, 20
FIFA President Sepp Blatter adjusts his glasses as he addresses the media after a meeting of the executive committee in Zurich October 4, 20

DOHA (Reuters) - FIFA's delay in making a decision on the dates for the 2022 Qatar World Cup will not affect the country's plans for the tournament, a senior official told Reuters on Friday.

Earlier, FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced that soccer's governing body would set up a consultation process to decide whether the finals should be held in the burning hot summer months or moved to the winter.

Blatter added the organization hoped to reach a decision after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and by 2015 at the latest, and admitted he personally took too long to appreciate the problems posed by Qatar's scorching heat.

The lack of a resolution to the problem has not affected Qatar officials who said their preparations, which include plans to use cooling technology in stadiums, training areas and fan zones, were unaltered.

"For us it doesn't really affect our planning," the organizing committee's communications and marketing director Nasser Al-Khater said in an interview during which he denied the lack of a decision was a frustrating setback.

"Our delivery is based on a summer World Cup in 2022. Regardless of the date, we're going to be delivering and be ready.

"Our cooling technology, which has always been in the plan, which is a major legacy project, will still go ahead," added Al-Khater. "It's not just a legacy for Qatar, it's a legacy for different countries on the globe that have a similar climate.

"For them to be able to utilize this cooling technology for mega events whether that be sporting events or other type of events, I think is a great legacy to give to the world.

"We'll be happy for the tournament to be held in winter, summer, as long as the international football community has a consensus, as long as they are all happy and in agreement, we'll be happy to host it on whichever desired date," said Al-Khater.

MIGRANT WORKERS

Qatar has been hit in recent weeks by allegations of ill-treatment of migrant construction workers.

A report in Britain's Guardian newspaper said that dozens of Nepali workers had died during the summer and that laborers were not given sufficient food and water, were housed in cramped and unhygienic conditions and had their passports confiscated.

Al-Khater said workers' rights were already written into the contracts of those involved in Qatar 2022 and organizers would try to ensure these were enforced.

"We always want to make sure anybody working at Qatar 2022 or for a contractor of Qatar 2022 will be treated with dignity, with respect, in a safe and secure environment," he explained.

"We've basically, over six months ago now, issued a workers' charter and mainly this workers' charter is to make sure the rights of the workers for Qatar 2022 are going to be respected and upheld.

"We have also made sure contractual language is built into all our contracts to make sure minimum requirements will be adhered to. We are going to make sure it's adhered to and enforced and for us this is something that we have been planning and carefully looking at from the very beginning."

Al-Khater brushed off criticism aimed at the Gulf state, saying: "I think it makes our resolve a lot stronger, it makes us more committed and more determined".

(Writing by Toby Davis in London; editing by Tony Jimenez)

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