Who is Watching the Qatar World Cup?

The World Cup Qatar is on all our minds just now. Adam N is another of our grade 11 students to present his opinion about this controversial event.

The Qatar World Cup, that kicked off on 20th November, will be a dark stain on football for many years. The World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world and should be enjoyable for people from all countries, not matter what your past. Whether rich or poor, black or white, straight or gay, it should be a time of community, love, and pride for your country. The World Cup should unite people and bring them closer together. However, this World Cup is unlike any other in the past and does not represent any of these qualities, and it all comes down to greediness. 

In 2010, former FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced that Qatar had been selected to host the 2022 World Cup in competition with Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Unlike the other countries in the running, it was evident that Qatar did not have the infrastructure to host an event of such enormous scale. Since then, an estimated $230 billion has been spent on eight new stadiums, a new airport, a metro system, a new road network, and more than 100 new hotels. As a result of preparing for the World Cup, Qatar has built a brand new country with the help of over 2 million migrant workers.

In 2016, Amnesty International accused Qatar of using forced labor, claiming that workers were living in horrible conditions and were forced to pay enormous recruitment fees while having their passports confiscated and wages withheld. When the World Cup was only one week away from the opening ceremony, thousands of workers were yet to be fully compensated, and there had been 7,000 reported work-related deaths, though this is believed to be greatly underestimated.

Qatar has a dubious human rights record, to say the least. Although officially a democracy, the country is ruled by the autocratic Al Thani dynasty, which imprisons LGBTQ people. The British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was deported from Qatar after initiating a one-man demonstration outside Qatar’s National Museum. On television, Khalid Salam, Qatar’s official World Cup ambassador, described homosexuality as “damage in the mind.” In a 2021 report, Human Rights Watch stated that the laws in Qatar impose discriminatory male guardianship rules, which deny women the ability to make important life decisions. Western greed also plays into this, as many celebrities who support gay pride events and liberal causes at home are willing to promote this World Cup amidst all of its controversies. 

Football is my passion, and I have loved the game all my life. I enjoy both playing and watching it on TV. However, in recent years, I have been disgusted by the direction the sport has taken. Football is becoming increasingly political and corrupt, and the Qatar World Cup is an obvious example of this. While I understand the importance of taking a stand against the controversies and violations that have occurred in Qatar, I am, just like all football fans, part of the problem.  I am one of the millions tuning in to watch the opening game, ready to cheer for my favourite team. So much for taking a stand.