FA boss Greg Clarke tells FIFA human rights must be protected if 2022 World Cup is expanded
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 16/03/19 8:40am
FA chairman Greg Clarke has urged world football's governing body FIFA to ensure human rights will be respected if the World Cup in 2022 is expanded beyond Qatar's borders.
A decision on whether to increase the tournament from 32 to 48 teams will be made in June when FIFA's 211 member associations meet at the annual congress in Paris.
With the tournament scheduled to take place over 28 days between November 21 and December 18, an expanded competition would need at least two more venues than the eight stadiums Qatar is building.
According to a feasibility study prepared for a meeting of FIFA's ruling council in Miami on Friday, adding 16 teams and 16 games would mean Qatar would have to share the tournament with at least one other country.
This boils down to either Kuwait or Oman, as the Gulf state is currently locked in a bitter dispute with its neighbours Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
But Kuwait only has one stadium up to the standard demanded by FIFA during the bidding race for the 2026 World Cup and Oman has none.
And the feasibility report said it "would be preferable" if the expanded tournament was staged in 12 venues, not 10, meaning Kuwait and/or Oman would have to build three.
This will alarm experts on the region's labour laws, as Qatar's World Cup building boom has already been the subject of intense scrutiny.
Organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Trade Union Confederation have repeatedly questioned Qatar's treatment of its army of migrant workers.
Ahead of Friday's meeting in Miami, they joined five other human rights organisations, trade unions and fans groups in writing an open letter to FIFA boss Gianni Infantino that pointed out an expansion to other Gulf countries, on a short timetable, would bring "human rights risks".
The letter called on Infantino to apply the human rights policy FIFA introduced for all future World Cups in 2017.
It is understood this message was repeated by Clarke during his first appearance at a council meeting since being elected as a FIFA vice-president last month.
According to a source in Miami, it was his only contribution but it was well received.
It is still entirely possible, though, that the tournament will remain at 32 teams, as Qatar can veto the move.
Speaking after the meeting, Infantino told reporters the Qataris have always been "open" to the idea but he hedged his bets by saying it would be "fantastic" with 32 teams or 48.
FIFA will now make a proposal on who would get the additional games and how that would work.
If the Qataris agree, it will then go to FIFA's members for approval, which would be a formality as 90 per cent of them have already said they are in favour of the extra slots and the additional income.