Qatar paid for Utah A.G. Sean Reyes to attend U.S. World Cup match

A spokeswoman for Reyes says the trip was paid for by Qatar because Reyes has helped the Middle Eastern country address human trafficking and cybersecurity policy.

(Julio Cortes | AP) U.S. fans sing the national anthem before the World Cup Group B soccer match between England and the United States at Al Bait Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. Shawn Reyes attended the game, whose travel was paid for by the Qatari government, the spokesman said.

Last week, as England and the United States battled to a 0-0 draw at the World Cup, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes was in the crowd, his tickets, airfare and accommodation paid for by the Qatari government.

It was a lavish bonus worth thousands of dollars for the state’s top attorney, but according to two attorneys I spoke with about the trip, it doesn’t violate the state’s ethics law as long as it can be related in some way to official duties. . .

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A spokesman for the Attorney General’s office said the trip to the game was not an official state visit.

Reyes’ campaign manager, Alan Crooks, told me that Qatar approached the Attorney General – a bipartisan organization made up of more than 46 state and regional attorneys general – in the run-up to the World Cup, seeking advice on how to resolve the issue. applied. human trafficking and cyber security concerns.

Reyes was among those who attended in-person and Zoom meetings with representatives of the Qatari government. Crooks said that the Attorney General was invited to attend the football tournament to see the results of the work.

(Francisco Kjolset | Salt Lake Tribune) Robert Gehrke.

Reyes left for Qatar on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, attended a game on Friday and returned Sunday evening. With at least 18 hours of travel each way, Crooks said he was not in the country for long, but met with some of the Qatari officials he previously worked with.

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Crooks explained that the Qatari government paid Reyes’ travel and accommodation expenses and the ticket to the game at Al Bait Stadium through AGA, but said Reyes paid for his wife Saisha’s plane tickets.

How much of what Reis said about combating human trafficking and what was actually used in Qatar is an open question. Qatar has come under intense scrutiny for its harsh treatment of foreign workers who toiled in sweltering heat and poor conditions for very low wages to build stadiums that hosted the World Cup.

Under a system known as kafala, migrant workers are essentially dependent on their sponsoring employer and cannot leave or return home for better wages. According to the Guardian, Qatar will be eliminated from the sponsorship system in 2020, ten years after the Middle Eastern country was awarded the World Cup by FIFA.

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A 2021 investigation by The Guardian estimated that nearly 6,500 foreign workers died in the 10 years leading up to the World Cup. In one Interview with Piers Morgan Hassan al-Sawadi, a Qatari official who helped organize the World Cup, estimated that 400 to 500 workers were killed while working on construction sites related to the soccer tournament.

“I know it’s a very sensitive and sensitive thing. You have to be very careful how you handle it,” Crooks said.[Reyes] he is aware of it and it is clear that he does not agree with it [the treatment of workers]. He tries to open with these relations. And it’s clear that they’re happy to be with him.”


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