Qatar Should Not be Hosting the World Cup

The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) is no stranger to controversies or human rights violations. Countries ruled under dictators still get the honor of hosting the biggest sporting event in the World. In 2015, an investigation revealed 7 executives accepted over 150 million in money bribes. Allegedly, three officials were recently offered one million dollars to vote for Qatar and the biases and obvious corruption have been called out on social media. Qatar is the smallest county to ever be chosen and reaches high temperatures even in the fall and winter. The country should not have even been considered due to those factors, not to mention Qatar’s long list of human rights violations. 

According to CNN, 400 to 500 migrant workers have died due to World Cup related projects. Qatar is a peninsula which means the country is a piece of land projecting out of a body of water. Temperatures in the summer reach up to 131 degrees Fahrenheit. On December 1, 2022, the high was 84 degrees Fahrenheit.  Because of the heat, air-conditioned stadiums were required so the players would not be as hot. The migrant workers had to struggle in the sweltering heat and poor working conditions with little pay.  

John Oliver called it “modern-day slavery” in the finale of his show.  The workers were recruited through a Kafla system which is enforced labor. “Workers couldn’t switch jobs or leave the country without the explicit permission of their employer, often had their passports seized and worked for hours in 125F heat.” The living conditions for workers were also absolutely horrible. 

The list of human right violations continues with Qatar’s discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community and women: “Homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison.” 

A world cup ambassador referred to homosexuality as “damage in the mind” during an interview. Qatar also has wide gaps between men and women in employment, education, health, and politics. While Qatar put out the message that anyone is welcome, many do not feel safe in the strictly conservative environment and are choosing to boycott instead. 

 The discrimination doesn’t seem to bother FIFA officials too much since they also have a long history of prejudices. The pay gap between men players and women players was very evident and went unsolved until it was taken to court

“Twenty-eight players then sued U.S. Soccer in March 2019, alleging that female players were consistently paid less than their male counterparts despite superior performance on the field.” U.S. Soccer is a part of the FIFA organization and FIFA member associations oversee distribution of the money to players. They certainly “dropped the ball” as stated in a Jean Monnet Program article

Continuing on the subject of women, deadlier discrimination against Iranian protesters has heightened tensions during the World Cup. Qatar is an ally of Iran, and that alliance is leading to protesters being threatened by World Cup security and Iranian supporters. The protesters were challenging the social and political repression of women. T-shirts, flags, and signs were confiscated despite the stadium being a public sporting event. Calls for the government’s downfall became an uproar after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody. 

Over 419 people died during the protests in Iran and that conflict has been brought into the stands of the tournament. Iranian players are facing jail or worse for any losses and protesters are facing Qatar security and police. An ex-Iranian player was arrested for speaking out. Despite the menacing environment, protests continue to fight for justice by chanting “Women, Life, Freedom!”  

An investigation made by the U.S. Justice Department “prosecuted more than 50 individual and corporate defendants in and around FIFA; 27 people (and four corporations) pleaded guilty to various bribery and money-laundering charges.” 

Many investigations are still underway but FIFA was able to get out from the charges unscathed so far. They victimized themselves and referred to the corruption as separate from the entire organization. 

“The global sports body argued, and the Justice Department ultimately agreed, that it was a bystander that a range of individuals and entities used to achieve their own (often corrupt) aims.” 50 people seems like too many to be a coincidence. 50 people make up an organization and that organization is most likely FIFA. Hopefully a future investigation will confirm the corporation’s guilt.

Even if FIFA hasn’t been charged specifically with corruption, there are still many moral issues the organization needs to deal with. Giving Qatar the opportunity to host the largest sports tournament in the world wasn’t the right decision. FIFA had a lot of opportunities to shut down “modern-day slavery.” Yet, they continued to support Qatar and released no statements condemning the treatment of migrant workers, women, and the LBTQIA+ community. In John Oliver’s words, there is “no reason to believe FIFA will ever do the right thing.”