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Qatar ready to host WCup whatever the date: Khater Brazil creates special riot force

DOHA, Jan 3, (Agencies): Qatar will be ready to host the 2022 World Cup finals whether the competition is played in summer or winter, Nasser Al-Khater from the organising committee told AFP on Thursday. Football’s world governing body FIFA have launched a consultation process over whether the tournament should be moved from its habitual June and July dates to the winter to avoid the unbearable heat in the Gulf. However, Al-Khater says the uncertainty has had no impact on Qatar 2022’s work thus far. “Our plans are still to deliver the World Cup in the summer as we have bid and as we have promised,” he said. “And I think it’s only right that if there will be a change that the international football community agrees amongst themselves and decides. For us we will be ready regardless of the date that they choose.”

With that in mind, work is underway on the first stadium to be built for the tournament and Al-Khater said that construction will accelerate in 2014. “We will be announcing five more stadiums in 2014 and five stadiums will be in different sorts of levels of work in 2014,” he stated. “So this is the year where real progress will be showing on the ground.” Plans to cool the air inside the stadiums — one of the most eye-catching elements of Qatar’s World Cup bid — will go ahead even with the doubt surrounding when the tournament will be played, with Al-Khater emphasising the need to improve conditions for domestic competitions too.

“You open the horizons for other countries because this (air-cooling) technology is not just for stadiums,” he said. “It’s for open and public spaces. So a fan zone, a public square can benefit from these kinds of technologies, which means that other countries that haven’t hosted events because of the weather or so forth have now an opportunity to engage with us, and for us to engage with them to look at solutions.” Al-Khater also insisted that reports in foreign media highlighting the difficult conditions faced by immigrant workers in the tiny country, while creating negative publicity, could turn out to be a positive thing. “It’s good that a light has been shown on something like this because it raises the question.

“However we also need to recognise that this isn’t the status quo and this isn’t something that is rampant. “Yes they are perpetrators of the law and, these people, what they are doing is illegal. I think that what it means now is things need to be reviewed on how to make sure that this can be enforced and the government at the highest level is taking this issue and matter very seriously. “We’ve created workers welfare standards which are going to be mandatory requirements that are going to be placed on all our contracts that will make sure these principles are maintained. “They are going to go into details of how to protect their rights, to make sure their welfare is being upheld, to make sure that things like their salaries are being paid on time.”

Brazil has created a special riot force to help police control demonstrations expected during the World Cup later this year. Col Alexandre Augusto Aragon, who heads the elite National Security Force, was quoted in local news on Friday as saying that 10,000 riot troops selected from state police forces throughout Brazil will be deployed in the 12 cities hosting World Cup games June 12-July 13. “We’ve have been concerned with this (security during the World Cup) before the protests that took place earlier this year, because we don’t wait around for things to happen,” he told the G1 Internet portal. “The violence of recent protests is what scared us.” Representatives for the Justice Ministry, which oversees the National Security Force, could not be immediately reached for comment.

At the peak of last’s protests, 1 million people took to the streets across Brazil in a single day, complaining initially of higher bus fares, corruption and poor public services, and then extending to the billions of dollars being spent on the World Cup and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. “There will be no World Cup,” became one of the mass movement’s most popular chants. “FIFA go home.” was another. The demonstrations coincided with the Confederations Cup soccer tournament, a warm-up tournament for the World Cup. Jerome Valcke, the top FIFA official in charge of the World Cup, said recently that the tournament would have “the highest level of security you can imagine” to contain any violence.

Valcke said he was satisfied with the police response during the protests that affected the six Confederations Cup host cities. The tournament went on as scheduled and none of the matches were disrupted. He said he expects the same type of response if there are protests this year. The Black Bloc anarchist movement has announced plans for protests of the World Cup, starting with the opening match on June 12 in Sao Paulo. A Black Bloc Facebook page listed demonstrations for June 13 in Natal, Salvador and Cuiaba, followed by six more protests in six cities on June 14 and 15. Brazilian authorities have said that they’ve learned from the demonstrations during the Confederations Cup and will not let protesters get too close to stadiums during the World Cup.

In December, Andrei Augusto Rodrigues, security head for major events at Brazil’s Justice Ministry, acknowledged that police misjudged the threat to public safety at Rio de Janeiro in June at the final of the Confederations Cup. Police used tear gas against protesters outside Maracana Stadium where the final was held. Clouds of tear gas wafting toward the stadium caused vendors at refreshment and souvenir stands to cough and tear up. Protesters got within 200 (meters) yards of the stadium, packed with 70,000 spectators for the Brazil-Spain final. Rodrigues has said that police will keep demonstrators farther away from stadiums during the World Cup.

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