Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has met with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani and they have agreed to cooperate with the preparations for their respective World Cups—Russia will host the 2018 World Cup, and Qatar the 2022 World Cup.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russia’s press services TASS “We have traditionally close ties in the field of sports and today His Highness the Emir and Russian President reaffirmed the mutual disposition to the very close cooperation in this field, including in the context of the preparation of the world championships in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.”
The agreement over the World Cup cooperation between the two countries was signed as part of a deal that is supposed to also see stronger cooperation in “gas, investment and humanitarian cooperation with Russia,” Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani said on Monday at a meeting with speaker of Russia’s State Duma Sergey Naryshkin.
Russia’s World Cup has come under scrutiny due to the country’s military involvement in Ukraine, its stance on gay rights, wide spread problems of racism in the Russian Football Premier League, as well as accusations of corruption during the World Cup bid.
The criticism Russia has received so far pales in comparison to Qatar’s World Cup preparations. A report in June 2015 issued by the BBC highlighted that 1,200 workers had died in World Cup related construction projects. Qatar has also been criticised for human rights violations, and like Russia has been suspected of having paid bribes in order to secure the World Cup. Furthermore, FIFA has announced that the World Cup would be moved to November and December to avoid the summer heat (a full list of Qatar World Cup controversies can be found here).
Neither country has outlined details on the cooperation agreement, but the deal will certainly raise eyebrows with those that have criticised FIFA’s decision to hold the next two World Cup’s in Russia and Qatar.