Qatar 2022 chief executive Nasser Al Khater has said the tournament “will be the best World Cup for a very long time” after Argentina defeated France in an extraordinary final on Sunday.
The World Cup ended in stunning style, with Lionel Messi getting his hands on the trophy at last following his side’s dramatic penalty shootout victory to dethrone reigning champions France.
But the tournament has been dogged by controversy ever since FIFA announced Qatar as hosts, with the country’s treatment of migrant workers, women, and its position on LGBTQ+ rights repeatedly coming under the spotlight.
Al Khater, however, told The Athletic after Sunday’s final that the 2022 World Cup has been the greatest in the 92-year history of the tournament.
He said: “I think it was more than what we expected. We said we would deliver amazing and we delivered amazing.
“I think it’s the best World Cup so far and will be the best World Cup for a very long time.”
Report says security guard ‘intoxicated’ at time of death
Al Khater has come under staunch criticism for his stance on migrant worker rights during the tournament and previously said that journalists shouldn’t “bang on” about the topic.
Earlier this month The Athletic revealed that a man died while performing repairs at the resort used as a FIFA training base for the Saudi Arabia squad.
A Kenyan security guard called John Njau Kibue subsequently died after falling from the World Cup venue in Qatar after Argentina’s quarter-final win over the Netherlands.
Since Qatar was awarded the tournament in 2010, there have been thousands of unexplained worker deaths.
Clarifying the exact death toll is a near-impossible task, which has become a significant issue as Qatar defends its human rights record. The figure provided by the organisers — that only three workers have died while working on World Cup projects — flies in the face of over a decade of research by multiple non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Al Khater said on December 8: “We’re in the middle of a World Cup and we’re having a successful World Cup and this is something you want to talk about right now?
“Death is a natural part of life, whether it is at work, whether it is in your sleep.
“A worker died, our condolences to his family but it is strange that is something you want to focus on as your first question.”
He added: “Look, workers’ deaths has been a big subject during the World Cup. Everything that has been said and everything that has been reflected about workers’ deaths has been absolutely false.
“This theme, this negativity around the World Cup has been something that we’ve been faced with.
“We’re a bit disappointed that the journalists have been exacerbating this false narrative. And honestly, I think a lot of the journalists have to ask themselves and reflect on why they’ve been trying to bang on about the subject for so long.”
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(Photo: Getty Images)