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Countdown to World Cup 2022: 15 days until the big kick off

FIFA’s brazen letter to the World Cup participants has sparked a lot of controversy, while Tottenham coach Antonio Conte slammed the packed schedule in England. Follow TVP World’s countdown to the big kick off in Qatar with a daily look at all the latest news and previews.

FIFA’s letter causes outrage

FIFA has written to World Cup teams urging them to focus on football in Qatar and not let the sport be dragged into ideological or political “battles”.

The letter from FIFA president Gianni Infantino and the governing body’s secretary general Fatma Samoura follows a number of protests made by World Cup teams, on issues ranging from LGBTIQ rights to concerns over the treatment of migrant workers.

“If Gianni Infantino wants the world to ‘focus on football’ there is a simple solution: FIFA could finally start tackling the serious human rights issues rather than brushing them under the carpet,” Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Head of Economic and Social Justice, said in a statement.

Amnesty and other rights groups have led calls for FIFA to compensate migrant workers in Qatar for human rights abuses by setting aside USD 440 million, matching the World Cup prize money.

“A first step would be publicly committing to the establishment of a fund to compensate migrant workers before the tournament kicks off and ensuring that LGBT people do not face discrimination or harassment,” Mr Cockburn added.

Australia’s soccer team last week spoke out against Qatar’s record on human rights and same-sex relationships, while Denmark’s players will travel to the World Cup without their families as a protest against the country’s human rights record.

Ironically, World Cup organisers have said that everyone, no matter their sexual orientation or background, is welcome, while also warning against public displays of affection.

Conte slams extremely packed schedule in England

Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte has criticised the post-World Cup fixture list in England, with League Cup ties set to be held a few days after the final in Qatar next month.

The World Cup, which begins on Nov. 20, will conclude on Dec. 18, while the fourth round of the League Cup is scheduled to take place that week with the top-flight Premier League resuming on Dec. 26.

“We knew about this situation, we knew it was crazy to put a World Cup during the league and the Champions League. This type of schedule is crazy,” Conte told reporters.

“Honestly, it’s really strange in England that we start to play three days after the final of the World Cup. We’re the only country to do it. Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and others are taking time to give rest and breathe a bit.

Conte added that soccer’s governing bodies had created an “impossible” situation with domestic leagues and UEFA trying to cram in fixtures before the World Cup.

“In every moment you show that the most important thing is the show must go on and then please, I don’t want to hear in the future about people speaking about the welfare of the players because this isn’t true,” he stated.

Tottenham are facing Liverpool on Sunday, and the latter’s coach Jurgen Klopp and Conte have both been heavily critical of the overloaded schedule in English football. Aside from the Premier League, teams will compete in the FA Cup and the EFL Cup (League Cup). On top of that, the top sides play in European competitions.

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