The Crimes of Qatar: Why We Should Boycott the 2022 World Cup
December 1, 2022
Since Nov. 20 2022, fans of the World Cup have filled the stands and gathered around the TV to enjoy soccer from all over the world. This year, the middle-eastern country of Qatar has taken on the task of hosting the World Cup. Yet, soccer hasn’t been the only focus for this World Cup. Reports of atrocious mistreatment of migrant workers, discrimination against women and LGBTQIA+ community, and the corruptive host country selection process has made Qatar a controversial country of choice to host the World Cup. Over one billion people watch the World Cup and with this kind of influential platform, I believe the host country should really represent the core values of soccer and that is not what Qatar is putting forward.
When Qatar was chosen in 2010 to host the World Cup in 2022, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) failed to recognize the fact that a country as small as Qatar would not have adequate facilities to host fans from countries all over the world. Qatar has spent over $220 billion in order to build brand new stadiums, hotels, a metro system, and an extension to the airport. All of this was done in a country smaller than the state of Connecticut, hardly enough space to host one of the biggest sporting events of the world.
In order to also build quickly, efficiently, and cheaply, Qatari companies began to hire numerous migrant workers from poor parts of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. These underprivileged workers were desperate to find a job and came to Qatar so that they could earn money to send back to their families. Workers were gone for months at a time, slaving away to build more than eight brand-new soccer stadiums in Qatar.
Once in Qatar, workers were forced to work up to 12 hours a day in the full sun and extreme heat without sufficient food or water. This caused massive dehydration and malnourishment throughout much of the migrant workforce. In addition to Qatar’s extreme weather, the housing conditions the workers were forced to live in were unsanitary and cramped. According to workers living in housing accommodations provided by the construction companies, over 10 people were packed into one small room that was dirty, unhygienic and with bad ventilation in the miserable heat.
It is reported that over 6,500 migrant workers died of suffocation, heatstroke, or other reasons due to the mistreatment of the Qatari companies and inaction of the Qatari government. The workers’ deaths meanwhile were marked as “natural causes” or “suicide” by the Qatari government. Due to many workers being widely uneducated, they couldn’t negotiate good deals for themselves which led to them being taken advantage of. The families of these migrant workers are left with painful questions about the fate of their loved ones and many never received financial compensation for their injuries and deaths. For the workers that did survive, many have still not received their full salary or overtime pay months after completing construction.
These working conditions have been brutal and many human rights organizations such as the Human Rights Watch have condemned Qatar for exploiting their workers. It seems that Qatar desires to contribute to the corrupt multibillion soccer industry at any cost, valuing money and business over lives and morality.
In addition to taking advantage of poor migrant workers, Qatar has a history of discrimination against women and LGBTQIA+ community. Under Qatar’s male guardianship rules, laws and regulations have made it so women need the permission of their male guardian to travel abroad, marry, or receive reproductive health care. Restrictions such as these don’t allow women to have a say over what happens in their lives.
Qatar is also a country in which a person that publicly comes out as part of the LGBTQIA+ community could be threatened. In fact, engaging in same-sex relationships could bring about up to 7 years of prison time. Since Qatar is a country where Islam is widely practiced, the Sharia law has made it possible to even sentence homosexual people to the death penalty. There have been multiple reports of LGBTQIA+ Qatari citizens who have been severely beaten, sent to government funded conversion camps, or suffered sexual harassment. This form of blatant gender and sexual orientation discrimination is not something that many countries participating in the World Cup should stand to support. So why then, is Qatar projected to earn over $6 billion in revenue from the World Cup?
Finally, the entire process of Qatar being chosen as the host country for the World Cup has been riddled with corruption. Over 12 FIFA high ranking officials have been reported to be a part of a big bribery and money laundering scheme in order to elect Qatar as the host country. Qatar has never even been a country known for the success of its soccer team and it somehow beat other countries like Australia, the United States, and Japan who were aiming to host the 2022 World Cup.
The timing for this year’s World Cup is also very out of the ordinary, making the selection of Qatar even more suspicious. Usually, the World Cup takes place during the summer months of June and July but in Qatar, the summer heat would have been unbearable for teams to play in. Instead, the World Cup got moved to the end of November through early December when temperatures in Qatar are cooler. This is an abnormal time for the World Cup and is also inconvenient for many fans. This unconventional change negatively impacts the schedule of the major soccer league like the Premier League and the Bundesliga which will also have to push back the dates of their tournaments and games by six weeks.
Some soccer teams competing in the World Cup have shown their opposition to FIFA, through the protest of human rights. For their official pre-game picture against Japan, Germany’s team covered their hands over their mouths to show their opposition to FIFA banning the “One Love” armband. Several European countries have prepared since September to have their captain wear the “One Love” armband, which depicts a rainbow heart to symbolize social justice and equality.
Captain Harry Kane was getting ready to sport the “One Love” armband in England’s first game against Iran but hours before the game started, FIFA declared any player who would wear the armband would get yellow carded. If a player gets yellow carded twice during the match, then they are eliminated from all the future matches. It is utterly unfair that teams will have a huge disadvantage in the tournament simply if they convey their opinion. This decision of banning the armband is an infringement on the basic freedom of speech, displaying how FIFA and the government of Qatar are trying to suppress the voices of people advocating for equality.
The choice of Qatar as host country for the World Cup has overshadowed what the World Cup was meant to be. Given the infringement on human rights, discrimination in the country, and the vicious cycle of corruption, it seems obvious that soccer fans should boycott this year’s World Cup. The corrupt nature of Qatar winning the title of host country and violating people’s rights shows that FIFA and the Qatari government have taken no adequate steps to address the troubling issues at hand. To me and all of the fans who have thoroughly enjoyed and looked forward to the World Cup every four years, this World Cup will sadly be a different experience which has ultimately lost its spark after becoming mired in controversy.