DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Qatar's top diplomat on Tuesday promised that his country would host a successful World Cup in 2022 and suggested that criticism of its successful bid was partly based on racism.
The bid is under renewed scrutiny following the launch of American and Swiss investigations into corruption at football's world governing body, FIFA.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah reiterated Qatar's stance that it has and will continue to cooperate with investigators. He said he was confident the event would go ahead and will be "the best World Cup ever."
He also hit back at the barrage of international criticism directed at Qatar over the tournament, indicating that racism played a role.
"Some parties cannot digest that a small, Arabic state ... is hosting such an event, as if our region, our Arab region is not entitled to have such an event," he said.
Al-Attiyah acknowledged that more work needs to be done to improve conditions for migrant laborers working on World Cup infrastructure and other construction projects in Qatar.
Promised reforms to the country's restrictive labor laws, which bind workers to a given employer and which rights groups say leave workers open to abuse, have yet to be implemented.
Al-Attiyah said he expected the new guidelines will be put in place by the end of the year.
"It is on the right track, and it will happen. We are serious about doing reforms," he said.
Al-Attiyah made the comments in an AP interview where he called for a "serious dialogue" with Iran in the wake of its nuclear deal with world powers, even as he blasted Tehran for continuing to support Syria's embattled government.