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FIFA arrests shine new light on Qatar World Cup deaths

Russian President Vladimir Putin is accusing the U.S. of "meddling" in international soccer
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Qatar is keeping quiet about the American and Swiss raids that have rocked FIFA and thrown another unwelcome spotlight on the tiny Gulf nation's hosting of the 2022 World Cup.

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The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is leading Qatar's development of World Cup venues and other projects, has so far declined repeated requests to comment since the investigations became public on Wednesday. So has Qatar's government.

Although FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio said there will be no re-vote for hosting of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, the investigations nonetheless increase the pressure on Qatar. Its winning bid has been assailed by critics over a host of issues ranging from allegations of corruption to questions over migrant workers.

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Organizers have denied wrongdoing, but World Cup sponsors Adidas, Coca-Cola and Visa last week publicly pressured FIFA to push Qatar harder on improving working conditions, with Visa saying it has expressed "grave concern" about labor conditions.

In a 2014 report, the International Trade Union Confederation estimated (PDF) that 1,200 World Cup workers have died since Qatar was named host in 2010.

A recent history of FIFA scandals
A recent history of FIFA scandals

The group estimated that at least 4,000 more workers will die before its World Cup starts in 2022. The estimation was based on statistics from the Indian and Nepali embassies. The group said about half of the migrant workers comes from those two countries.

The Washington Post compared worker fatalities from Qatar's World Cup against deaths from preparing such events as last year's Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and the London Olympics in 2012. The newspaper posted a chart illustrating the wide gap to Twitter.

Last week, a BBC reporting crew spent two nights in a Qatari prison after being arrested while trying to meet migrant workers.

Qatar's silence stands in sharp contrast to comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country will host the World Cup four years before Qatar. He accused the U.S. of meddling in FIFA's affairs.

Swiss investigators are pursuing an investigation into the decisions to award the World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

Qatar's leadership sees the hosting of international sporting events, including the 2006 Asian Games and 2011 Asian Cup in soccer, as a way to boost the country's standing on the global stage.

The energy-rich country earlier this month played host to a Diamond League track meet, and will host the world athletics championships in 2019. Qatar hasn't ruled out making another Olympic bid after failing to secure the 2020 Games.

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