Qatar 2022- Football or exploitation?

It didn’t take long for criticism to appear after Qatar was announced as the host country for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Plenty of concerns and controversies arose regarding the eligibility and legitimacy of FIFA choosing Qatar as the winner of the bidding process. Not just numerous media outlets, but even human rights groups and activists moved to highlight the possibility of errors in the event, such as the brief history of football in Qatar, the high anticipated cost, the weather there, and Qatar’s track record on human rights. As anticipated, the 2022 football cup allegations proved to be more realistic than we thought. Slavery, death, and prohibition are just a few words that best describe what is to be this year’s world cup, even before the games have begun. 

Slavery and migrant workers

Many Nepalese and other migrant workers died in the construction effort of the football stadiums in Qatar. The most common cause of death is a heart attacks, heart failure and workplace accidents, a total of 44 Nepalese migrant workers Died in 2013 alone. On top of this accusation, an investigation conducted that from 2010 to 2019 the estimated causalities number can be as high as 15000. Daily, labourers from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Philippines, and Kenya were brought from their assigned accommodations to work building massive stadiums before daybreak. The trip takes several hours, and temperatures usually reach around 40 degrees Celsius. As a form of protest for the brutality shown to the migrant workers many western teams like Germany, Norway or Denmark will wear T-shirts with human rights slogans and logos instead of the classic sponsor or team insignia.[1]

 

The stadiums built in Qatar for the world cup

Inhuman living conditions

Employees are often kept in cramped, filthy, and dangerous conditions. In rooms with eight or more individuals, we witnessed guys sleeping on bunk beds. However, Qatari legislation and the Workers’ Welfare Standards limit the number of beds per room to four and prohibit bed sharing and the usage of bunk beds. With reality sometimes being cruel, workers also must put up with fake promises of salaries, Amnesty International mentions that: “One worker was promised a salary of US$300 a month in Nepal, but this turned out to be US$190 once he started work in Qatar. When workers tell Companies that they were promised higher salaries, they are simply ignored”. Works also mentioned that their salaries are being kept for 2 months to ensure nobody is running away, leaving zero freedom of choice for the workers trapped in the “football paradise” [2]

The living conditions of many migrant workers in Qatar

LGBTQ+ oppression

Unlike the poor treatment of workers, the repression against gay rights for the world cup was something to be expected, With Qatar being an Islamic country it is out of the question that any guarantees for the safety of the query community can be given. In a TV conference in 2022, the Sheikh of Qatar stated: “We [Qatar] welcome everybody, but we also expect and want people to respect our culture.” in this statement the world culture is used to deny the rights of the gay community while also shifting the blame away from an outdated and abusive system. This approach from the Qatari government, lead many football fans to urge for proof that the world cup will be safe for the LGBTG+ community, in England many claims that they will not go to the world cup just because they feel unsafe or uncertain.

Even for so-called straight world cup fans, many of our common behaviours will be seen as disrespectful and even illegal in some cases, leaving many fans to wonder if they will be able to enjoy their vacation besides the competition. Dressing inappropriate, dating or showing affection in public, even towards your loved one might be seen as a sign of hostility against the Islamic culture. Caution and humbleness might be the best approach to keep you out of danger. [3]

list of prohibited items and activites

Footballs BFF” Alcohol prohibited

There are multiple aspects of consuming alcoholic beverages in countries like Qatar that made football fans worried in the past years. To put this in context, Consuming alcohol is not prohibited in the country. If it is consumed in public areas, there is zero tolerance for it, and it is a crime to be intoxicated in public. If supporters smuggle alcohol from the designated drinking areas, they risk deportation or heavy fines. The Times reports that the Arcadia festival will serve beer for 19 hours a day between 10 am and 5 a.m. The supporters are in good luck because the beer will be also available at the official FIFA Fan Festival.

Although these are easing regulations on the use of alcohol, there are no exceptions for foreigners in Qatar’s continued tight prohibition on drug use. Supporters can face even the death penalty for these crimes. People will only have access to alcohol during the breaks inside the stadium and hospitality boxes. [4]

Winter World Cup

Most people know that typically, the World Cup takes place in the summer in the northern world. Hence Qatar’s location, the summer is inadequate to host such events, mainly, because of the unbearable heat. Highs can go up to 50 degrees Celsius in the summer. The comments of experts in the fields of climate and the impact of the weather on the human body can be traced back more than a century. Two doctors that are members of Aspetar sports hospital (located in Doha) stated that climate would ‘’ affect performance levels from a health point of view” and that the “recovery times between games would be longer” than in milder climates.  

These circumstances gave significant headaches to the management of the event.  After loads of discussion among stakeholders, FIFA announced that a winter World Cup will be held rather than the usual midsummer competition.   [5]

Corruption and boycotting 

Russian “special operation in Ukraine” 

This year’s World Cup is filled with corruption and boycotts from many European teams, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in March, this year FIFA announced that the Russian Federation will not host any matches in their territory, though the Russian national team will still be able to participate in the tournament itself. Poland, the Czech Republic, England, and Sweden have already announced that they refuse to play against Russia. [7]

Initially, FIFA issued a series of restrictions affecting Russia’s participation in international football. Not allowing the team to use any banners, flags, or even the national anthem when competing this year. After a series of protests the Russian Federation was completely suspended from the 2022 world cup. While some observers support the boycott of Russia, they point out that FIFA did not boycott Saudi Arabia for its military involvement in Yemen, Qatar for its human rights violations, or the United States for its military operations during the Iraqi war   [8]

 

Clubs boycotting modernday slavery 

Tromsø IL, from Norway real a statement calling for a boycott of Qatar 2022, blaming reports of “modern-day slavery” and an “alarming number of deaths,” among other issues. The club has requested that the Norwegian Football Federation back such a boycott.  

In response to the 2017 Qatar diplomatic crisis, Reinhard Grindel, president of the German Football Association, stated in June 2017 that “the football associations of the world should conclude that major tournaments cannot be held in countries with human rights abuses,” and that the German Football Association would consult with UEFA and the German Cabinet to determine whether to or not boycott the 2022 tournament in Qatar. Later in 2021, the German football association declared in a press interview that they will not boycott Qatar as they think the Islamic country experienced many great advances in the last several years in terms of human rights and it is the football’s job to support this kind of development.

satirical caricature for Qatar 2022

Aftermath 

With this short article, we writers were trying to give you a basic understanding of how many people suffered and will suffer from the consequences of this World Cup. We tried to investigate this ominous football competition and discovered that the Devil is in the details. It is understandable for a supporter to think that it is a must to cheer their team to victory, but every penny spend on passes and tickets contributes to the failed system and mindset of the money-oriented management who is behind this event. Us authors cannot order anyone to spend their savings mindfully, but we believe that showing people the right way is the task of a writer. 

By Visanica Claudiu-Florin and Norbert Marton

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