Qatar, host country of the 2022 World Cup under fire from critics, is the victim of "discrimination" because some "cannot accept that an Arab and Muslim country" organizes such an event, castigated the emir Monday.

Since FIFA awarded the World Cup to Qatar in 2010, the rich Gulf state has come under fire from human rights defenders, especially for the treatment of foreign workers employed in construction sites linked to the tournament, which will be held from November 21 to December 18.

"For decades now, the Middle East has suffered from discrimination," Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said on the opening day of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. in Swiss.

“Even today, there are still people who cannot accept the idea that an Arab and Muslim country can organize an event like the World Cup,” he continued.

A minimum wage introduced in 2020

“These individuals, many of whom have influential positions, have launched attacks of unprecedented intensity,” the leader regretted.

In response to criticism, the small gas emirate nevertheless reduced the “kafala” in 2016, a sponsorship system that makes employees quasi-properties of their employer.

Doha also introduced a minimum wage in 2020.

"Qatar is just like your own country...not perfect, constantly trying to improve," Sheikh Tamim insisted.

“We are very proud of the development, the reforms and the progress we have made, and we are grateful for the spotlight that the World Cup has given us,” he added.

Compensation for workers?

For some NGOs, however, the progress made is mixed and not always applied.

They believe that more pressure must be exerted on the country and FIFA before the competition.

On Thursday, Amnesty International called on world football's governing body to pay compensation of at least $440 million to "mistreated" workers on construction sites linked to the 2022 World Cup.

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