Citing a confidential assessment by former South African police chief Andre Pruis, British media is trying to make the case that Qatar is too vulnerable to terrorism to serve as host. As someone who has worked on counter-terrorism issues for nearly 20 years, I find this argument wrong for three key reasons.
Fifa is not above the law; it only looks like that. The FBI is conducting its own investigation into whether corrupt payments were made during the World Cup bids using computer servers based in the USA. They are free to bring forward their own prosecutions, like any other law enforcement agency if they believe that there is clear evidence of wrong doing within their jurisdiction. However, the only real way to hurt Fifa and to make it change its ways is through its finances.
Article 19 is calling on the Brazilian government to ensure the right to protest and freedom of expression is protected, by introducing a new law to regulate the use of police force during demonstrations, which should follow five principles, according to UN standards: legality, necessity, proportionality, moderation and convenience.
Workers explained their circumstances. As we sat with them in the terribly overcrowded 'bedrooms' many wept from sheer frustration. Returning home to massive debts chalked up by payment to labour agents is a humiliating prospect that has led some migrant workers to take their own lives. Agents actively recruit workers in poverty stricken and jobless countries. I wondered about the men I met who will return home alive or uninjured, who will repay their debt and who will survive the shame if they "fail". I looked workers in the eye and felt immense anger at the betrayal of their human rights.
FIFA seems to treat this kind of scrutiny with complete contempt. It needs to realise that it does not own world football; but is merely the governing body of the sport. It gives the impression of being full of a lot of hard faced old men who have grown rich from the game, and whose instinctive response to any crisis is to cover for each other.
It's been proposed that, since it's popular in Russian law, it's not the job of the Western world to change it. This is ridiculous on many levels. Firstly, a human rights violation is a human rights violation, regardless of whether anyone, majority or minority, elite or common, thinks it's a good thing.
I can never hear about football tragedies without thinking of the Shankly saying. Hillsborough, Bradford City, Heysel, the Accra Sports Stadium deaths in Ghana in 2001, the dozens killed during Egypt's Port Said stadium clashes in 2012. The list goes on and on. Or indeed the recent depressing news of two more deaths during construction work on the stadium that will host the opening ceremony for next year's World Cup finals in Brazil.