FIFA health talk is cheap after death of 34 migrant workers in Qatar

IAN LADYMAN: FIFA’s talk about putting  health before football is cheap when 34 migrant workers have died building stadiums in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup

  • FIFA president Gianni Infantino says game must put health before profits
  • But Infantino lacks the credibility to speak on these matters after Qatar mess
  • Many migrant workers working on World Cup 2022 stadiums have died
  • Some workers are paid a terrible wage and work as much as 77 hours a week

Barely a month into football’s current state of inertia and the head of FIFA has arrived with a basketful of meaningless platitudes to make us all feel better.

‘Health must come first,’ said president Gianni Infantino on Friday. ‘No match, no competition, no league is worth risking a single human life.’

He is right. Football should not resume until it’s safe to play again. It’s just a shame that Infantino lacks the credibility to speak on matters like this.

Gianni Infantino’s talk about putting health before football is cheap after Qatar migrant crisis

Thirty four migrant workers assigned to building projects around 2022 World Cup have died

Workers have had to live in terrible conditions and work up to 77 hours a week for a pitiful wage

At the last count, 34 migrant workers assigned to building projects around the 2022 Qatar World Cup have died. The chances are there will be more.

A report from Amnesty International last year said that many workers had gone unpaid for months on end. Another human rights group, Sherpa, have claimed that some work as many as 77 hours a week for a fraction of what passes for an average salary in Qatar.

FIFA are not often heard talking about this, though. Above all, Infantino and his crew just want that particular show to roll on. Qatar 2022 will not have the 48 teams in it that Infantino wanted.

It will stick with 32, which is still at least eight too many. But the president will have got over that by the time he checks into his five-star hotel in Doha three Decembers from now.

Qatar’s World Cup stadiums will be impressive but have come at a cost to those who built them

Infantino also said at the end of last week that he hopes FIFA can use some of their vast financial reserves to help football move through the coronavirus crisis. Doubtless, that will happen. It must happen. FIFA must lead.

But what we also know is that FIFA will continue to spend much of their own and their sponsors’ cash on themselves.

A visit to the official FIFA hotel in Moscow during the last World Cup was enlightening. I was there for an hour or so. There was time for a club sandwich at least. Just not enough room on my credit card.

It will be the same in Qatar, where it is thought that some visiting supporters will be forced to sleep in tents or on cruise ships anchored off the Gulf coast. We should not be surprised. As usual, it will not be football’s World Cup. It will be FIFA’s World Cup and there is a difference.

The 2022 World Cup will be FIFA’s tournament and not one created for the good of supporters

Nobody knows what the world will look and feel like once this current pandemic has blown through. We are told it will be smaller. Our horizons in terms of finance, travel and emotional freedom may well have shrunk. We will be told to adjust to what they call a new normal. It would be nice if those at the top of the sport took on board a little of this message, too.

If any organisation in the game needs to press a reset button it is FIFA. A little less largesse would be nice, a little more transparency of process would be lovely. A little more thought for those whom football is supposed to be about. And, finally, a little less bull****.

Infantino can talk all he likes about the worth of human life but he should not expect anybody to listen until he properly takes control of events in his next World Cup’s host venue.

The spin from the Qatar World Cup 2022 supreme committee is that none of the 34 deaths were ‘work-related’. Believe that? No, me neither.

Republic of Ireland wrong to replace McCarthy  

Mick McCarthy is out of a job after his long-planned successor Stephen Kenny was hustled into his seat ahead of the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020-21 play-off games. 

At 61, McCarthy will want to work again and if there is any sense left in the world, then he should not have to wait long. 

For evidence of his enduring worth, just have a look at how Ipswich have got on since he left. 

A timely lesson for TV giants 

One of the stranger casualties of the coronavirus lockdown in our house has been the television. It has hardly been on for a month. 

Certainly, there has been no particular need to tune in to the Sky channels and this is why I would expect the current conversations between the Premier League and their broadcast partners to end in compromise. 

If Sky, BT and the rest ask for their money back, our game is in trouble. But in the long term, so are the broadcasters. 

Upset the Premier League now and Sky and the others will be at a disadvantage the next time the TV rights are up for grabs. Sky need football just as badly as football needs Sky. Deep down, I suspect both sides know this.

Coronavirus crisis has revealed that broadcasters and football both badly need each other

Woodward’s winning way 

Ed Woodward’s great fault at the helm of Manchester United has been to appoint the wrong managers and too often sign the wrong players. It is quite a rap sheet. 

But to accuse him of spending too much time negotiating sponsorship deals and earning the club money has never made sense. 

Now, as some Premier League clubs scramble to pay their staff’s wages and wait for their players to agree to salary cuts, United feel absolutely no sense of panic. 

They have enough cash. They will not furlough employees. England captain Harry Kane is now on their radar. 

Maybe the guy who did all the deals with the noodle companies and tyre manufacturers in the Far East wasn’t quite the dope in the room after all. 

Ed Woodward’s business savvy in signing up sponsors has secured Man Utd’s financial future

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