Every four years, the world’s best footballing nations come together to battle each other for the chance to be crowned world champions at the FIFA World Cup – a spectacle which is arguably the biggest in sports, with viewing figures in the billions and almost 1 in 2 people in the entire world watching the tournament final. However, as the 2022 World Cup comes into view on the 20th of November, things are not feeling right within the footballing world when it comes to the entire thing. Whether it be due to the circumstances surrounding the decision for Qatar to host, the abhorrent violations of human rights, and even some of the weird things with the fan culture. It seems that the Qatar World Cup is already lining up to be the worst FIFA World Cup tournament even before it started.
First things first, to not beat around the bush, the Qatari Government bribed FIFA into hosting the World Cup. In the 2015 FIFA Corruption Scandal, it was confirmed that the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding had been tainted by the financial guidance of Russia and Qatar for hosting the respective tournaments – Qatar’s being more confusing as they beat the United States in the final round of voting to win the rights. The United States at this point had already hosted a World Cup in 1994 and had ample facilities to host the tournament again. Qatar on the other hand, had no infrastructure, barely a professional football league, and is smaller than the city of Sydney. Despite this, voting would swing to Qatar with the score of 14 to 8, as voted by the members of FIFA’s governing body. Fun fact this was also the World Cup that Australia attempted to host but only got 1 vote in the first round of voting and therefore, eliminated in the process. It’s interesting going onto the Wikipedia page of the 2022 World cup voting and seeing the names of the FIFA members that were organised for the voting, as 10 of them having brackets talking about either being arrested or banned after the fallout of the corruption case, including two vice presidents (Jack Warner & Michel Platini), the senior vice president (Julio Grondona), and the FIFA President (Sepp Blatter).
Another item of discussion for this World Cup is the rules and the vibes that are coming from within the country for the travelling fans. With Qatar being a Muslim country, there are laws about the consumption of alcohol and cigarettes understandably. Both are available but have specific rules; alcohol can be purchased in certain areas of the stadium but only before and after the game (also available in licensed places away from the stadiums) and it is illegal to be drunk in public. This has caused some problems for tourists in the past as smoking is legal just not in public places with the punishment being an almost $3000 fine and three months imprisonment. It will be interesting to see how this goes, particularly with the alcohol rules about not being drunk, with some of the countries’ drinking cultures in attendance. With other oddities including not kissing in public, dressing “modestly”, and no swearing (good luck enforcing that Qatar with the English, Welsh and Australians at the tournament), this has caused a lot of would-be travelling fans to not even bother trying to attend the World Cup in person. So, as a way to keep the fan engagement for people in Qatar, they have introduced two of the weirdest methods known to man. First, it was revealed that the Qatari Government were going to/paid football fans from different countries to come to Qatar for the tournament and only say nice things about the countries. Secondly, and even more weirdly, paying migrant workers and Qatari citizens to support different nations (I am not kidding). There are videos from a supposed “World Cup Rally” showing people holding banners such as ‘Qatari Germany Fans’ whilst the actual fans from those nations seemed very limited. Even when it comes to the fans and the atmosphere, it all seems to be some form of fakery.
Trigger Warning for Next Section: (R*pe, Hate Crimes against LGBTQIA+, Human Rights Violations, Discussions of Slavery)
And finally, the biggest problems with this World Cup are the human rights violations regarding migrant workers and the treatment of LGBTQIA+ people in the country. Qatar had to build all of its stadiums and even a full city within the space of 12 years to be able to host this tournament. This project was aided by the employment of migrant workers from poor parts of Asia to do most of the heavy lifting to erect these stadiums. This was a similar situation that happened in 2018, as Russia would use North Korean migrant workers to help make their stadiums match FIFA requirements when they would host it. With the rumours of workers having all their belongings stripped and working in horrible conditions – with 6500 workers dying officially and rumours of up to over 10,000 unofficially – there is a reason that people are calling this the World Cup built by modern slavery. And it would be all for nothing as, after the World Cup, the stadiums are going to be brought down regardless. Even if you go to Qatar for the World Cup and follow all the rules to the letter, if you are a part of the LGBTQIA+, you could be targeted regardless. Qatari Government officials have been constantly working on the airways of social media and television saying that everyone is welcome but to respect the laws of the country. This is a complete lie as there have been articles revealing how vile government officials track down LGBTQIA+ people posing as other associated people and beat, r*pe, and deport them out of the country. An article that aired this: https://inews.co.uk/news/qatar-officials-gang-raped-gay-world-cup-hosts-lgbt-people-1949447 It’s things like this that exposes Qatar and its facade as a welcoming country. The fact that a tournament like this can still occur when the government targets people, commits unspeakable atrocities against them, and deports them from the country in 2022, is unfathomable. To me, this is no better than when Nazi Germany hosted the Olympics in 1936. People are targeted for who they are, things they cannot help being, and things they cannot change. In 2022.
On a final note, I love the World Cup and always will, but when it is given to a country whose government had to bribe everyone to host the tournament, and has committed such unspeakable actions which have destroyed thousands of lives – whether it be from LGBTQIA+ people and migrant workers – all to put on a front of being an accepting country. I simply cannot support this, and I cannot watch with any remote form of interest. To summarise:
The 2022 World Cup is nothing more than propaganda.