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Abolish ‘Kafala system’ for players: FIFPro Venezuela manager quits with WCup dream over

DOHA, Dec 1, (Agencies): Qatar has been told by the world players’ union FIFPro to abolish the kafala system for footballers and respect international standards for their contracts. The 2022 World Cup host nation also heard that it was essential to allow the establishment of a local players’ union. “FIFPro has the attention of Qatar’s leading football officials,” said FIFPro delegate Mads Oland after meeting Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, in Doha on Saturday. “FIFPro, as the representative of all professional footballers worldwide, will be heard loud and clear.” The meeting came days after French footballer Zahir Belounis arrived home, having allegedly been prevented from leaving the country after falling into a long-running dispute with a local club. Belounis said he had been unable to obtain an exit visa which has to be applied for by his employers under the kafala, or sponsorship, system.

“We have a structure in place now that paves the way for FIFPro to launch several critical objectives in Qatar,” said Oland in a statement issued by FIFPro. “Qatar heard FIFPro’s wish to abolish the kafala sponsorship system in its application to footballers. This goes to the heart of respecting their basic human rights.” “There is a clear understanding on all sides that the level must be raised for the best of the football industry in Qatar. “The level must be in line with FIFA standards within the Qatari professional league, including the application of minimum contract requirements and dispute resolution.”

“FIFPro made it very clear that the establishment of a free, independent FIFPro affiliate, a players’ union that puts the welfare of footballers first, is essential.” “As of now, the players who FIFPro protect cannot be guaranteed that their rights will be respected. That has to change.” FIFPro also discussed conditions for the migrant workers employed in the country’s construction industry following reports of ill-treatment and abuse. “We raised the concerns about the conditions for workers building infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup and the core labour standards which Qatar needs to meet,” said Oland.

Venezuela manager Cesar Farias resigned on Saturday after his failure to secure a first-ever World Cup qualification for the nation who missed out on next year’s finals. “Sadly, we couldn’t achieve our main goal to classify for the World Cup in Brazil,” the 40-year-old Venezuelan said, announcing his resignation in an open letter to fans. “That hurts us deeply because if we had achieved that we’d have given enormous joy to a nation submerged in a complex and difficult social and political situation.”

From the moment a crane dramatically collapsed at the Sao Paulo stadium, it was clear World Cup organizers would have their hands full trying to deliver all 12 venues by FIFA’s end-of-December deadline. The giant crane buckled when hoisting a 500-ton metal structure that came crushing on top of the stadium, clipping part of the roof and cutting through a huge LED panel that runs across the venue’s outer facade. The ravaged crane was seen resting on the ground outside the stadium, while the enormous metal roofing piece stayed atop part of the stands. Clearly it wasn’t just a minor setback for the venue that will host the 2014 World Cup opener on June 12. Two workers died in Wednesday’s accident, which immediately raised doubts about Brazil’s preparedness to host football’s showcase event. The timing could not have been worse, putting the country under even more pressure just days before the international footballing community begins arriving for a high-profile World Cup draw.

But as bad as the tragedy was at the Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo is not the only problem for World Cup organizers just weeks before all stadiums must be delivered. Actually, work in Sao Paulo was almost finished when the accident happened. It was one of the most advanced venues among the six that must be delivered this year. The story is different in Curitiba, Cuiaba and the jungle city of Manaus, where there are signs they might not make it in time despite claims by local organizers that all three venues will be ready as expected.
FIFA says it will have a better idea of what will be delivered next week, just ahead of Friday’s World Cup draw in Costa do Sauipe. “Next week the preliminary updates on the operations of the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be provided for all operational and infrastructural areas,” football’s governing body said. “Following these assessments and presentations FIFA will provide an update.”

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