Liverpool are reported to have rejected the hotel assigned to them for the upcoming FIFA Club World Cup in December, after background checks unearthed ethical concerns relating to the facility.
As Champions League winners, the Reds travel to Qatar as Europe's representatives at the annual tournament and will take on an as yet undetermined opponent in a semi-final on 18 December before either the third-placed playoff or the final three days later.
For the duration of their stay, FIFA had initially allocated them a stay at the five-star Marsa Malaz Kempinski hotel on the island or Pearl-Qatar, but according to David Ornstein of The Athletic, research into the hotel prompted them to reject the offer and instead seek alternative accommodation.
Last month @martynziegler reported on FA dilemma over Peter Beardsley’s attendance among former captains invited to England’s 1000th game. Ban from all football-related activity for racist abuse has indeed seen him become the only living ex-skipper barred: https://t.co/PJCdvWlfdA— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) November 4, 2019
The Reds operate with an Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking policy, focused on ensuring that there is no slavery or human trafficking in their business and supply chains.
An investigation by The Guardian last year found the hotel operated in breach of labour regulations, while some employees were reported to be paid below minimum wage.
Kempinski Hotels responded at the time, saying that they were 'committed to abiding by the highest ethical standards', and would conduct their own investigation into the accusations.
This is believed to be just one factor among a host of details uncovered that led Liverpool to pull the plug, however, with a variety of other concerns coming to the fore.
In response to Liverpool's decision, FIFA said: “FIFA and the other tournament organisers are part of a multi-stakeholder initiative to promote workers’ rights in the Qatari hospitality sector.
“Steps are being taken to work bilaterally with hotels directly linked to the tournaments to strengthen their efforts to uphold their own human rights responsibilities, in line with FIFA’s Human Rights Policy and well-established FIFA World Cup standards.”
Liverpool, meanwhile, are yet to come to an arrangement with the EFL that will allow them to move their EFL Cup tie with Aston Villa - currently scheduled to take place one day before their semi-final of the Club World Cup.