Why Qatar is a contentious World Cup host?

Cheers filled the streets of Doha when Qatar was chosen to host this year’s FIFA World Cup, marking the event’s first appearance in the Arab region.

But the decision, which was made in 2010, also drew immediate criticism, including questions about the viability of hosting a sporting event in a nation where summer temperatures routinely reach 100 degrees, claims of bribery and corruption against FIFA officials who supported Qatar, and worries about ongoing human rights violations.

The Gulf nation is now anticipating the arrival of more than a million supporters as the World Cup is only days away. And billions more people will watch the 64 games of the tournament. However, debates continue to rage.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is an international football tournament contested by the men's national teams of FIFA's member associations.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is an international football tournament contested by the men’s national teams of FIFA’s member associations.

Recently, even the former president of FIFA criticized the choice of Qatar. Sepp Blatter, whose tenure as the president of FIFA came to an end in 2015 due to a bribery scandal, said, “It was a stupid choice, and I was accountable for it as president at the time.”

Deaths of migrant workers and a lack of infrastructure

The World Cup is a complicated international athletic event that attracts large numbers of spectators and necessitates the infrastructure to support them. Qatar is the smallest country to ever host it. Qatar is nearly 20% smaller than Connecticut at just 4,471 square miles. The majority of the nation’s 2.8 million inhabitants reside in the region near the capital Doha, which is surrounded by a desolate sandy plain.

When it was chosen to host the tournament in 2010, Qatar lacked several of the stadiums, hotels, and roads necessary. The nation relied on its sizable population of migrant laborer’s, who make up 90% or more of its labor force, to construct them. (Only around 300,000 people who live in Qatar are citizens; the majority are migrant workers, whose permits are attached to their jobs, a practice that is widespread in the Middle East).

Those migrant workers frequently faced dangerous and exploitative working and living conditions. According to a 2021 investigation by the Guardian, more than 6,500 migrant workers from five south Asian nations had perished in Qatar since 2010 due to a variety of causes, including heatstroke, workplace accidents, car accidents, suicides, and deaths from other causes.

Qatar World Cup chief says ‘death is a part of life’ after reported worker death
Qatar World Cup chief says ‘death is a part of life’ after reported worker death

According to one of the reporters working on the investigation, Pete Pattison, “many of them died suddenly in an unexplained way in their labor camps. Some of them include workers who collapsed on the stadium construction site and died after being taken off it. Others died in traffic accidents on their way to work in a company bus.

Qatar and FIFA both contest that figure. Qatar acknowledges the deaths of 37 workers that were “non-work-related” but claims that just three people have died as a direct result of working on World Cup construction sites. Officials in Qatar claim that working conditions have improved since the tournament was chosen and that the World Cup is an “incredible opportunity to enhance welfare standards.” In 2014, the nation introduced a set of Workers’ Welfare Standards that added new protections.

In May, a group of human rights organisations urged FIFA and Qatar to establish a remedy fund, which would be a pot of money that could be used to make amends for mistreatment of migrant workers and the families of those killed while constructing stadiums and other World Cup-related infrastructure.

They assert that the fund should have a minimum value of $440 million, which is the same as the World Cup prize money. Minky Worden, the director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, one of the organization’s calling for the fund, stated that “we believe that players don’t want to play in stadiums that workers died to build, and we believe that fans don’t want to stay in hotels or use metros that workers died to build.”

Other human rights abuses

Concerns about violations of human rights extend beyond how migrant workers are handled. “In a word, the human rights situation in Qatar is bad,” Worden said.

This Monday, Human Rights Watch published a 42-page study detailing what it called “the various human rights concerns surrounding Qatar’s preparations for the 2022 World Cup,” urging journalists to consider issues outside of soccer. The criminalization of extramarital sex under Qatar’s penal law has resulted in rape victims being prosecuted. Sex between men is punished by up to seven years in jail, and men who “incite” or “entice” another man to perform “an act of sodomy or immorality” may be sentenced to one to three years in prison. Homosexuality is thus essentially criminalized.

One of the Qatari World Cup ambassadors recently described homosexuality as “harm in the head” in an interview with a German television. Ambassador Khalid Salman, a former member of the Qatari national team, said: “The most important thing is, everyone will accept that they come here, but they will have to respect our rules.” Officials in the West, particularly those in the United States, strongly condemned the remarks. Department of State.

The country has been criticized for multiple human rights concerns - including for its treatment of women, LGBTQ+ people and migrant workers
The country has been criticized for multiple human rights concerns – including for its treatment of women, LGBTQ+ people and migrant workers

LGBTQ persons are allegedly subjected to conversion therapy, harassment by the police, and jail in Qatar, according to advocates. “The fear is so, so real,” said Dr. Nasser Mohamed, who was raised in an ultraconservative Qatari community and applied for asylum in the U.S. over fears of retribution over his sexuality.

Everyone will be welcomed in Qatar for the World Cup, the Qatari embassy stated in a statement to press, adding that Qatar is a “quite conservative society” and that the “safety of all guests is of the utmost priority” to the host nation. We merely ask that all visitors respect and honor our culture as they would if they were visiting other countries or regions of the world.

Allegations of bribery and corruption

Allegations of bribery and corruption have long plagued the choice of Qatar to host the World Cup. Following a series of votes by FIFA officials, the choice was made public in 2010. Over bids from the United States, South Korea, Japan, and Australia, Qatar prevailed. Numerous representatives of FIFA and other organizations have been charged with accepting or seeking bribes to steer the World Cup to Qatar over the years.

In an interview, James Montague, a journalist who has written about Qatar and the World Cup, stated that there have been “just so many allegations of corruption against the Qatari bid – of political machinations going on, in terms of government deals, gas deals between countries that would have a vote on who would host the World Cup finals.”

Russia and Qatar deny bribing FIFA officials to secure World Cup hosting rights
Russia and Qatar deny bribing FIFA officials to secure World Cup hosting rights

Twelve of the FIFA executives engaged in the selection have subsequently been banned from the association, including Blatter, its former president, or have been charged with corruption. Michel Platini, a former president of European soccer and legendary French soccer player, was detained in 2019 as part of an inquiry into a $2 million payment related to his attempts to bring the World Cup to Qatar.

The November schedule has put a strain on many players

Summertime is the customary time for the World Cup. However, because to the extreme heat and humidity in Qatar throughout the summer, the event was moved to November. (The games will also take place in stadiums with air conditioning.)

Professional soccer has been greatly impacted by the scheduling, particularly in Europe, where the majority of league calendars normally stretch from late summer through the following spring. Premier League in England, Bundesliga in Germany, and La Liga in Spain are just a few of the top professional leagues that have declared two-month breaks to accommodate the World Cup.

According to a recent assessment by FIFPRO, the organization that speaks on behalf of 65,000 players worldwide, that crammed schedule has put “unprecedented workload demands” on the players. The analysis revealed that historically, Premier League players have had an average of 31 days to prepare and 37 days to recover for a typical midsummer World Cup. According to the union, prep and recovery times were reduced to seven and eight days this year.

The research claims that “overlapping tournaments, back-to-back matches, extreme weather, a rushed preparation period, and inadequate recovery time together represent an ominous hazard to player health and performance.” According to FIFPRO expert and exercise scientist Darren Burgess, there will be “a fairly high danger” of injury for players taking part in the cup.



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