Doha: Qatar 2022 World Cup organisers will ensure contractors adhere to international labour laws for workers employed on construction projects before the tournament, Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi said on Tuesday.
"Major sporting events shed a spotlight on conditions in countries. There are labour issues here in the country, but Qatar is committed to reform. We will require that contractors impose a clause to ensure that international labour standards are met," Thawadi told an audience in the Qatari capital.
"Sport, and football in particular, is a very powerful force. Certainly we can use it for the benefit of the region."
Poor working conditions are common across the oil-rich Gulf region, where impoverished men and women from South Asia have come for decades to toil on construction sites or oil projects or to work as domestic help.
Welfare workers say the sponsorship system, in place across much of the Gulf, and the lack of a minimum wage allow migrant workers to be exploited.
All foreign workers in the region must work for a local sponsor, and it is legally difficult to leave the sponsor before an employment contract ends without the sponsor`s consent. Many sponsors keep their workers` passports.
Qatar has embarked on a massive domestic building programme in the runup to the tournament.
It plans to spend USD 11 billion (7 billion pounds) on a new international airport, USD 5.5 billion on a deepwater seaport and USD 1 billion for a transport corridor in the capital, Doha. It will spend $20 billion on roads.
A management contract to oversee construction projects for the 2022 tournament would be awarded in the first quarter of this year, Thawadi said.
The contract, originally expected to be awarded late last year, will oversee coordination with government agencies on large infrastructure projects, including the construction of stadiums, on which the country plans to spend USD 4 billion.
Qatar will build nine new stadiums and renovate three existing facilities.
"It will be in the first quarter, definitely. (The programme manager) will ensure the infrastructure projects are delivered on time, and that there is a contingency plan in place in case of a delay," Thawadi said.
A construction industry source told Reuters in October that more than six companies were vying for the contract, including British construction consultants Arup, Mace and Turner International.
Thawadi said in June that the country planned to complete construction of the first stadium by 2015.
Qatar, where summer temperatures top 45 degrees Celsius, was the surprise winner of a December 2010 FIFA vote to choose the 2022 host country. It plans to build solar-powered, air-conditioned stadiums to overcome the sweltering summer heat.