UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin claims he was unaware of concerns that North Koreans were allegedly subject to human rights abuses while working on a 2018 World Cup venue.
The Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic football associations had reportedly raised the concerns and in a response purportedly written by Gianni Infantino that was published by several media outlets last week, the FIFA president acknowledged the “appalling” conditions of North Korean workers deployed at the Zenit Arena in St Petersburg.
The correspondence also revealed that a FIFA monitoring committee found strong evidence for the presence of North Korean workers on the site back in November, though a further inspection in March is said to have found no more employed at the site.
Ceferin, who is the chairman of the organising committee for FIFA competitions, condemned the alleged findings and was disappointed he had not been informed of the situation by FIFA prior to it becoming public knowledge.
“What disturbs me is that we have to read about that in the media, that information about that leaks in the media before we know anything about it,” Ceferin told the BBC.
“We didn’t know about any inspections, we didn’t know about any letters, we didn’t know about anything. It was the first time we knew about it, from the media. The first time. Which is strange. We are the biggest confederation, not just the biggest, but we are a confederation, and we should be informed.
“And it was a big discussion at our Executive Committee, because the members of the Executive Committee of UEFA, and especially the members of the council, are not satisfied, because we don’t get information soon enough.
“So it’s hard to decide anything if you get information two days before the council, or you read about some facts in the media – it’s hard to have an opinion about it.
“Of course, we have to condemn that. If that happened, it should be solved. And as I read, again in the media unfortunately, it was solved later. That was part of the letter of Gianni Infantino that I read in the media.
“It’s not a criticism towards the President of FIFA, it’s a criticism against an organisation which is the world governing body of football and doesn’t give us very important information.
“I can understand that they want to solve the problems before they come to the knowledge of the confederations. But we might be asked by the media, by our associations what is going on, and we again don’t know anything.
“I see that in football the communication is a big problem sometimes. You simply cannot… work if you don’t have information. Europe is different, probably – I don’t want to speak about the others, but we will simply not decide if we are not informed properly.
“And we are not informed properly.”
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