Mar 312016
'Forced labour' at Qatar World Cup site
Construction progress at Al Rayyan Stadium, one of the venues for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar on March 18, 2016 in Doha, QatarImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Amnesty said the Qatar government was “apathetic” about preventing abuses

Rights group Amnesty International has accused Qatar of using forced labour at a flagship World Cup 2022 stadium.

Amnesty says workers at Khalifa International Stadium are forced to live in squalid accommodation, pay huge recruitment fees and have had wages withheld and passports confiscated.

It also accuses Fifa of “failing almost completely” to stop the tournament being “built on human rights abuses”.

Qatar said it was “concerned” by the allegations and would investigate.

The government said the welfare of migrant workers was a “top priority” and insisted it was committed to systematic reform of Qatar’s labour laws.

Migrant workers describe ‘pathetic’ conditions

Have 1,200 World Cup workers really died in Qatar?

Arrested for reporting on Qatar’s World Cup labourers

Last year the country pledged to makes changes to its “kafala” sponsorship system, under which migrant workers cannot change jobs or leave the country without their employer’s permission.

But Amnesty warned the proposed reforms would make little difference and said some of the workers were enduring a “living nightmare”.

“All workers want are their rights: to be paid on time, leave the country if need be and be treated with dignity and respect,” said general secretary Salil Shetty.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Abuses of World Cup workers is a “stain on the conscience of world football”, Amnesty said

Amnesty interviewed 231 mostly South Asian migrants – 132 working at the stadium and 99 on green spaces in the surrounding Aspire sports complex.

It said staff of one labour supply company used the threat of penalties to exact work from some migrants such as withholding pay, handing workers over to the police or stopping them from leaving Qatar.

This amounted to forced labour under international law, Amnesty said.

The Qatari government said its Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs would investigate the contractors named in the report.

But Amnesty said every migrant it had interviewed had reported abuses of one kind or another, including being:

  • required to pay fees of up to $4,300 to recruiters in their home country to get a job in Qatar
  • deceived over the type of work and the pay on offer, which was sometimes half as much as they were promised
  • threatened for complaining about their conditions

One metal worker from India who worked on the Khalifa stadium refurbishment told Amnesty he was threatened by his employer when he complained about not being paid for several months.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Qatar’s government says it is committed to labour reform

“He just shouted abuse at me and said that if I complained again I’d never leave the country,” the worker said.

“Ever since I have been careful not to complain about my salary or anything else. Of course, if I could I would change jobs or leave Qatar.”

Another metal worker from Nepal said his life was “like a prison”.

Some of the Nepali workers told Amnesty they were not allowed to visit their families after the earthquake last April that killed thousands and left millions displaced.

Media captionThe BBC’s Mark Lobel reports on his “dramatic” arrest while reporting on migrant workers in Qatar in May 2015

‘Fifa indifference’

Mr Shetty also had harsh words for Fifa, accusing it of “indifference” to the abuse of migrant workers, which he said was a “stain on the conscience of world football”.

The Khalifa Stadium is part of the Aspire Zone sports complex, where facilities have already been used by some of the world’s biggest football clubs, including Bayern Munich, Everton and Paris Saint-Germain, which trained there in the winter.

Amnesty has called on big World Cup sponsors such as Adidas, Coca Cola and McDonald’s to put pressure on Fifa to tackle the issue.

“It is time for football’s leaders to speak out or be tainted by association,” Mr Shetty said.

Media captionDan Roan reported in February 2015 on alleged labour violations in Qatar

Could Qatar lose its World Cup?

It wants Fifa to get Qatar to publish a comprehensive reform plan before construction on World Cup projects peaks in 2017.

It also wants Fifa to carry out its own inspections of labour conditions in the Gulf state.

The numbers working on World Cup sites are set to rise tenfold to around 36,000 in the next two years, Amnesty said.

Fifa acknowledged it had a responsibility to ensure human rights were respected in the build-up to a tournament, but also said it was not responsible for “solving all the societal problems” in a World Cup host country.

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Mar 312016
Sir Doug Ellis had two spells as Aston Villa chairman, the first starting in 1968

Former Aston Villa chairman Sir Doug Ellis does not regret selling the Premier League club to Randy Lerner and says the American is a “good man”.

Villa are bottom of the table, 12 points from safety with seven games left, and parted company with manager Remi Garde on Tuesday.

Lerner, who bought the club from Ellis in 2006, has been criticised for not backing Garde in the transfer market.

But Ellis said Lerner put his “money where his mouth is” in buying the club.

And asked on BBC Radio 5 live if – with the benefit of hindsight – he would sell to the American, the 92-year-old said: “Yes, I would.”

Ellis, who had two spells as chairman at Villa Park, sold the club to Lerner for £62.6m.

Lerner, 54, put the club up for sale last May.

“When I did the deal with Randy he made it clear he wouldn’t be able to come to many matches and he certainly hasn’t,” said Ellis.

“I said I’d be there for him at any time because I left £20m in for new players. Consequently he hasn’t asked.”

Villa, who have lost their past six matches, host Chelsea on Saturday (12:45 BST).

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Neville sacked as Valencia boss

 Posted by at 2:27 AM
Mar 312016
Gary Neville had been named Valencia head coach until the end of the season

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville has been sacked by Valencia after less than four months in charge of the Spanish club.

The 41-year-old, who is part of the England coaching set-up, was given his first managerial job in December.

Valencia won three of their 16 league games under the former television pundit, and 10 of 28 games overall.

Neville said he wanted to stay but results had “not been to my standards” or those “required by this club”.

He added that he understood “we are in a results business”.

Neville’s younger brother Phil is also part of the Valencia coaching team and will be retained.

Neville first faced calls to quit after a 7-0 loss to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg in February.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Gary Neville ‘won’t sleep well’ after Valencia’s 7-0 defeat to Barcelona

His last match in charge was a 2-0 home defeat by Celta Vigo just before the international break.

He has spent the past six days with the England squad for friendly games with Germany and the Netherlands.

Former Liverpool assistant manager Pako Ayestaran, 53, will take charge for the rest of the season.

Pako joined the club as assistant coach in February in a move that Neville insisted was his decision.

“I’m the head coach of Valencia, I will be the head coach of Valencia for the rest of this season. If I leave, Pako will leave. He’s come to be part of my coaching staff,” Neville said at the time.

“I understand it might look like there’s something going on. There absolutely isn’t.”

“The last thing I want levelled at me when I leave here is that Gary Neville lacks commitment,” said Neville in December

Valencia owner Peter Lim also co-owns Salford City along with the Neville brothers and former Manchester United team-mates Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes.

Neville’s management career began with a Champions League loss to Lyon at the Mestalla and it was not until 13 February that Los Che clinched their first of only three league wins.

Cup competitions provided some respite for Neville, with seven wins coming in the Copa del Rey and Europa League.

Neville retired in 2011 after 602 Manchester United appearances and 85 England caps. He won 16 trophies at United and represented his country at five major tournaments.

Six-time Spanish champions Valencia are 14th in the table, six points clear of the relegation zone with eight games remaining.

On Saturday they face Las Palmas, who are one place below them, and meet four of the top six – including both Barcelona and Real Madrid – before the end of the season.


European football expert Andy Brassell:

“I don’t think he did have any chance of turning it around and I think it was an incredibly difficult first job.

Not just because of the relative lack of experience, not just because of the size of Valencia, but because of the situation he was going into.

The fans were pretty unhappy with the way the club was being run, players were dispirited but you add to that the lack of experience, the communication barrier – it was just all too much.”

Match of the Day’s Gary Lineker expressed sympathy for Neville

Real Madrid and Wales forward Gareth Bale said it was “a shame he’s been sacked”.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s El Clasico derby with Barcelona, Bale said: “It is obviously difficult coming to Spain anyway and being a manager where you really do have to be vocal.

“I’m sure he’ll bounce back from the experience and it will stand him in good stead for the future.”

‘I’m not going to sleep well tonight’

Gary Neville’s Valencia tenure in quotes:

  • “Valencia are a huge football club of immense standing – and I know from my time as a player the passion and dedication of the Valencia fans” (2 December as he took charge)
  • “Sitting on the television over the last few years, it is time now to stand up. If I turned down this job I could have kissed goodbye to my credibility” (3 December – first news conference)
  • “You’re asking me about my position. I find this question ridiculous. It’s from you. Don’t put this on to the fans” (31 January after fans booed another defeat)
  • “I am not going to sleep well tonight. This is one of the worst experiences I’ve ever gone through in football” (3 February after the 7-0 defeat to Barcelona)
  • “I last doubted myself 18 years ago. After that, I developed coping mechanisms to deal with situations. I’m fine” (After the same game)
  • “I said before I came that I would be judged in five months. I have been judged in six weeks” (After a 1-0 defeat to lowly Real Betis)
  • “There can be a hurricane on the outside but you have to be in the eye of the storm on the inside” (12 February after no wins in nine league games)
  • “I understand it might look like there’s something going on. There absolutely isn’t” (17 February after Pako Ayestaran is appointed)
  • “I take responsibility and apologise to the fans. It is unacceptable to play like that in a derby. We deserve all the criticism” (13 March after losing to bottom club Levante)

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Mar 302016
Rob Elliot was born in Greenwich but qualifies for the Republic through his father’s Cork background

Republic of Ireland and Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot will miss Euro 2016 this summer after being ruled out for a “number of months”.

Elliot, 29, suffered a serious knee injury during the Republic’s 2-2 friendly draw with Slovakia on Tuesday.

“There was a wave of emotion knowing I’d miss the rest of the season with Newcastle and the Euros with Ireland,” Elliot told his club’s website.