Not your typical Football World Cup
now, is it?
Every four years, the #FIFAWorldCup ⚽ brings with it the minute-long “GOOOOAAAAALLLLLL” announcer celebrations, outstanding athletic achievements (sometimes with use of hands too! 😉), and a great deal of consternation that the trophy “didn’t come home” 😜
But the version from this year feels very different. The murky processes used to choose the host nation and the scandals involving the Qatari administration pose a threat to overshadow the action on the field. Here is why:
𝗙𝗶𝗿𝘀𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗮𝗹𝗹, 𝗶𝘁’𝘀 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝘂𝗺𝗺𝗲𝗿. Since the World Cup usually takes place in the summer, it has become rather simple to watch games at work when your boss is gone. However, the summers in Qatar are excessively hot (average highs reach 40°C), thus the event was postponed until the fall. Because of the lengthy breaks that domestic soccer leagues around the world have had to take in the middle of their seasons so that players can compete in the World Cup, this has proven to be extremely disruptive.
𝗦𝗼 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝗱𝗶𝗱 𝗤𝗮𝘁𝗮𝗿 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗵𝗼𝘀𝘁? That’s a good question because it’s unheard of. When it was chosen in 2010, Qatar’s soccer team had never previously qualified for the competition, and the nation isn’t exactly set up to host one either: There is only one active soccer stadium in the entire nation. Corruption might be the solution. The US Department of Justice claimed in 2020, following a lengthy investigation, that representatives of Qatar and Russia (which hosted the 2018 World Cup) had bribed FIFA officials to secure hosting rights.
𝗧𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗴𝗲𝗱 𝘃𝗶𝗼𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀. The infrastructure required to host the event was built by migrant laborers in Qatar, a small country of fewer than 3 million people. However, according to Amnesty International, the working circumstances for those individuals resemble “modern slavery.” The Guardian reports that since Qatar was given this World Cup in 2010, more than 6,500 migrant workers from South Asia have perished (although they also claim that this number is significantly understated). Human rights watchdogs argue that the Qatari government hasn’t gone far enough to undo the violation despite the reforms it implemented in 2020, including the establishment of a fund to compensate injured workers. In addition to the alleged mistreatment of migrant workers in Qatar, critics have also criticized the government’s limits on women’s rights (women cannot drive without a male guardian’s approval) and homosexuality (which is illegal there).
Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, attempted to shift all of this criticism from the host nation toward himself in a weird, hour-long statement on Saturday. “Stop critiquing Qatar. Never be critical of the players. Don’t be critical of others. Object to FIFA. Object to me if you wish. Because I’m in charge of everything,” he explained.
𝗕𝗶𝗴 𝗽𝗶𝗰𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲: Global opposition to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 appears likely to dampen interest in this edition of the tournament, much as what the Beijing 2022 Olympics faced earlier this year. Denmark’s uniforms have a “toned down” design in opposition to Qatar’s record on human rights. And for the same reason, towns all around Europe, including Paris and London, are suspending the custom of displaying World Cup games in public places.