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Its confirmed: FIFA Club World Cup to kick off on December 11 in Qatar

The Bureau of the FIFA Council confirmed that the Club World Cup 2019 is set to be kicked off on December 11 in Qatar with the final taking place 10 days after on December 21.

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News Desk |

The global soccer governing body, FIFA announced the dates of the forthcoming FIFA Club World Cup 2019 on Friday. The Bureau of the FIFA Council confirmed that the Club World Cup 2019 is set to be kicked off on December 11 in Qatar with the final taking place 10 days after on December 21. The kick-off timings and venues will be announced in due course.

Among the eight participating teams, three have already been confirmed: Mexico’s CF Monterrey (winner of the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League), New Caledonia’s Hienghène Sport (winner of the 2019 OFC Champions League) and England’s Liverpool FC (winner of the 2018-2019 UEFA Champions League).

The club representing hosts Qatar will depend on the ongoing AFC Champions League. FIFA had said it would revamp the tournament to feature 24 teams from 2021, with Qatar hosting the final two editions in the old style as test events for the World Cup which the Gulf state will host in 2022.

FIFA has fully cooperated by shifting the “traditional summer soccer” tournament to December in order to give the Gulf country a fair chance at the hosting bid.

The decision to give Qatar the Club World Cup had come two weeks after FIFA settled on 32 countries for the 2022 World Cup rather than expanding to 48 teams. Qatar is the smallest nation by area ever to have been awarded a FIFA World Cup – the next smallest by area is Switzerland, host of the 1954 FIFA World Cup, which is more than three times as large as Qatar and only needed to host 16 teams instead of the current 32.

Will the Test Events Determine Qatar’s Preparedness for 2022?

Qatar is the first Arab country to host the FIFA World Cup tournament and hence, it comes with its own unique characteristics and challenges. One of the most widely debated concern about Qatar 2022 had been the hot temperatures of the tiny peninsular country.

One of the biggest challenges to Qatar will be coping with an influx of potentially thousands of fans who will want to drink alcohol, which is currently only available for foreigners in a limited number of bars in Qatar. However, Hassan Abdulla al Thawadi, chief executive of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup bid, said the Muslim state would also permit alcohol consumption during the event. Specific fan-zones will be established where alcohol can be bought.

Read more: Why is Franklin Foer’s “Cancel Qatar” problematic?

Since Qatar’s host-bid win in 2010, critics and rivals have manipulated the temperature challenge as a major factor behind Qatar’s inability to host the event. However, FIFA has fully cooperated by shifting the “traditional summer soccer” tournament to December in order to give the Gulf country a fair chance at the hosting bid.

The upcoming FIFA World Club tournament is in fact a test for the tiny Gulf state that will significantly highlight the weaknesses of the on-going Qatar 2022 project and will also positively determine areas that would be needing further improvements.

Update on Football Stadium Construction

In a statement to Al-Jazeera in May the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy of Qatar stated that the country had reached a major milestone with the opening of Al Wakrah Stadium; a 40,000-seat venue located just south of the capital Doha. In addition to that, the construction work for the Al Bayt stadium; a 60,000-seat venue is expected to be completed by December this year. 32km north of Doha, Lusail Stadium, presently under construction is expected to host the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

Since Qatar has won bid to host the World Cup 2022 from its competitors including the US, Japan, South Korea and Australia back in 2010, efforts to sabotage the event are being made by the Saudi-led bloc.

In addition to these, Al Rayyan stadium, Education City Stadium, Al Thumama Stadium and Ras Aboud Stadium are also being built by the State of Qatar.

Yasser Al Mulla, the SC’s Landscape & Sport Turf Management senior manager “All the stadiums will be completed two years before the tournament starts,” which indicates towards Qatar’s preparedness to host the test tournaments in 2019 and 2021.

Qatar 2022 – A Multi-billion Dollar Project

Qatar has allocated QR 5 billion over the next five years to develop the current fleet of 400 buses in the public transport company to a network of 2,000 buses for 2022.

By some estimates, the World Cup is going to cost Qatar approximately US $220 billion, this is about 60 times the $3.5 billion that South Africa spent on the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Moreover, recent media reports suggest that the allocated budget for football pitches and facilities is worth around six billion dollars. In addition to that amount and for further development across the country, there are other infrastructure investments which will be used for the World Cup.

Smear PR-backed Campaigns Against Qatar 2022

Since Qatar has won bid to host the World Cup 2022 from its competitors including the US, Japan, South Korea and Australia back in 2010, efforts to sabotage the event are being made by the Saudi-led bloc.

Read more: Qatar to spend a whopping $6B on construction for FIFA 2022

CTF Partners, a PR firm headed by Sir Lynton Crosby, a UK-based Australian political strategist was reportedly to be paid $6.4 million for reporting Qatar as a terrorist funding state ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in a bid to black list Qatar from the hosting bid. The report named “Project Ball” was leaked to the Guardian and had revealed that the “Partners could set up full-time war rooms around the world to spread negative stories about Qatar in the mainstream media, run fake grassroots campaigns on social media, and lobby potentially friendly politicians, journalists and academics.”

The company was also said to be provide the PR services to the Saudi Crown Prince, Muhammad Bin Salman on his visit to the UK, last year.

Earlier this month Qatar had also responded to Franklin Foer’s opinion piece “Cancel Qatar” published in The Atlantic in July. Jassim bin Mansour Al Thani, Media Attaché for the State of Qatar in the United States in his written response had addressed the misconceptions about Qatar 2022 and expressed disapproval of Foer’s zero sum fallacy. The response article by Jassim Al Thani was also published in The Atlantic.

Implemented at workplaces from June 15, the special working hours are expected to last till August 31 with strict enforcement measures in place.

In addition to the smear PR campaign against Qatar, various faux Human Rights abuse complaints had also been being made against Qatar on the alleged violation of labor rights of the workers constructing the football stadiums for FIFA World Cup 2022. However, the United Nation’s International Labor Organization (ILO) has passed Qatari standards of worker rights. Qatar in its defense has stated that the improvement of labor laws is a work in progress and Qatar continues to make things easier for its workers.

Qatar, last year, amended its laws pertaining to residency of the labor force and has since allowed the workers to leave the country without applying for an exit visa; an effort lauded by the ILO. Addressing the concerns of International organizations such as Amnesty International, Al Thawadi said that “this FIFA World Cup can be a catalyst for change, both in Qatar and in other parts of the world”.

In a significant development in Qatar’s labor laws, shorter working hours have also been announced for open workplaces during summer by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs in June. Implemented at workplaces from June 15, the special working hours are expected to last till August 31 with strict enforcement measures in place.

Read more: FIFA to ditch expansion plans; Qatar to host 32 teams for World Cup 2022

The decision of the Ministry drafted under the Ministerial decision No (16) of 2007, states that work done outdoors starting in the morning must be stopped from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm and must not last for more than five hours in the morning.

Instructions regarding the enforcement of the prescribed summer working hours were also released by the ministry along with orders for companies to ensure a standardized and reasonable working conditions for the workers in a bid to abide by international and national commitments towards labor rights.