Opinion | Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup is dangerous
In the past, host countries for the World Cup have been brilliant locations and have made for beautiful football. South Africa in 2010 was successful, Brazil in 2014 was an instant classic and Russia’s first-time hosting went smoothly last year.
Now, Qatar is in the spotlight to welcome 32 countries in 2022. But moving the tournament from Qatar to a new country would be the safest and most beneficial decision, even if it causes some outcry. FIFA could avoid a ton of stress if another country hosted the tournament.
As the first host country in the Middle East, Qatar has been surrounded by controversy since being awarded the 2022 World Cup back in 2010. The first complaints were the extreme temperatures — which can surpass 110 degrees in the summer. Because of this, FIFA decided to move the World Cup from mid-June to mid-July to late November through mid-December to avoid the summer heat. Qatar, also, has uneasy relations between neighboring lands. The Gulf Cooperation Council claims Qatar has supported terrorism and helped Al-Qaeda — Qatar denies such claims. Bordering countries, including Saudi Arabia, have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. The potential closing of borders between Qatar and its neighbors could spell serious trouble for soccer fans come 2022 as the ability to travel freely across its borders is hampered.
Prior to the 2010 vote on which country would host the 2022 World Cup, two executive members of the FIFA committee were suspended amid allegations of corruption relating to their votes. In the bidding process, the final two countries were Qatar and the United States. When Qatar was selected, claims of bribery and corruption surfaced against members of FIFA’s executive committee. These allegations were backed up by documents obtained by The Sunday Times revealing that the Qatari television channel Al Jazeera offered $400 million to FIFA under the table for broadcasting rights three weeks before Qatar was announced as the location of the 2022 World Cup. Subsequently, Qatar’s government offered another $480 million to FIFA, bringing the sum to nearly $900 million.
The most recent development is the arrest of Michel Platini, the former president of the Union of European Football Associations. The Frenchman’s detainment is significant because he’s suspected of involvement in Qatar’s bid. He’s been released without charge, but the damage is done; FIFA is reportedly considering finding a replacement country to host the upcoming World Cup. Platini will undergo more in-depth interrogation as to his knowledge and involvement in the process leading to Qatar’s selection over the United States, South Korea, Japan, and Australia.
Other controversies that have sparked concern are the rights of LGBTQ fans, as homosexuality is illegal in Qatar. The Qatari government has stated that displays of affection in public are advised against in a seeming effort to hide members of the LGBTQ community. FIFA has said it wants all fans to enjoy the global event no matter their sexual orientation.
Adding to the concerns of the LGBTQ community, there are reports of worker misconduct as well. Though stadiums in Qatar are being built in record times for the upcoming World Cup, that can’t overshadow the deaths of the workers, who are migrants. The Guardian asserted that migrant workers have been denied water and food, had their identity papers taken away, and haven’t been paid on time or at all, effectively making them slaves. Another article from The Guardian showed men residing in unsanitary labor camps with inhumane conditions.
Many of the people in Qatar aren’t from there, and many working on the World Cup construction have died since 2010. Statistics reveal around 522 Nepalese and over 700 Indian workers are part of the group that has died. The workers have been exploited by, reportedly, being forced to sign documents saying they were paid when they weren’t, in order to get their passports back.
In 2015, BBC reporters, when invited by the Qatari Government, were arrested in Qatar when trying to report the conditions of workers. In 2017, Qatar signed an agreement to improve the conditions of more than two million migrant workers in the country. This should allow the workers of the World Cup infrastructure to leave the country or change jobs as they wish.
Another concern is whether Qatar is an appropriate place to hold the most prestigious event in soccer. The Qatar men have never qualified for the World Cup and were ranked №113 in the world when selected to host the tournament. Qatar will be the smallest country to host with a permanent population of under one million people. This fact is accompanied by the unsettling knowledge that Qatar hires migrant workers for a dollar per hour to be in the stands as fans pretending to enjoy games of the Qatar Stars League. With the culture of football in Qatar being in serious doubt, FIFA might be hesitant to stay the course with Qatar as the host for 2022.
While some worries over Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup have been addressed, controversies continue to sweep through the news surrounding the nation. While the time of year has been switched for the first time in this quadrennial tournament’s long-running history, Qatar serving as the host country is still controversial. Time isn’t on FIFA’s side, as the 2022 tournament is quickly approaching, so choosing a new location before the end of 2019 is imperative. Qatar doesn’t seem fit to take on the hosting honors, and it would only be right to award the games to a more deserving nation. In light of all of this evidence, it’s time for FIFA to realize the selection of Qatar for the 22nd installment of the World Cup was flawed. If they wish to avoid further repercussions, they should choose a new host country.