The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup is staged as a global festival of football where friends unite, fans express and families congregate. The most prestigious soccer competition played every four years is always more than just a sport for football players, football fans and football enthusiasts.
It is different this time. The FIFA World Cup is slated to begin on November 20, 2022. But everything about this cup is contaminated with controversies and tainted blood. The event is flooded with waves of #BoycottQatar2022 at least helping the colossal tournament trend.
As soon as Qatar was awarded to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup, there was a flurry of discourse going around. An authoritarian, monarchist state with no tradition of football chosen to host the world cup was widely accepted as unjust by many.
The 2022 World Cup has exposed Qatar’s track record on many paramount issues. While fans across the world would want to see their favorite teams win, there would be families breaking down in tears in memory of their near and dear ones who lost their lives crafting a larger than life venue.
Furthermore, it goes against all moral principles for FIFA to allow football to be played in a state where Sharia law continues to be the primary legal framework, political parties are still outlawed and homosexuality is viewed as a sin.
Audiences are now compelled to analyze and decide on the very culture of the world game due to charges of corruption and labor rights violations that are accompanying the issues.
Many players, fans and human rights activists are raising their voices globally against the sport to draw attention regarding the rights of migrant workers, the LGBTQI+ community and women as well as the environmental concerns brought by air-conditioned stadiums.
The FIFA in the latest edition of its handbook claims to be committed to respecting all internationally recognized human rights and strive to promote the protection of these rights. In its diversity and anti-discriminatory policy, FIFA claims the rejection of any kind of discrimination on account of race, skin color, ethnicity, national or social origin, religion, and sexual orientation.
The first-ever FIFA world cup in the Arab world conflicts with FIFA policies and statutes. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar under Islamic Sharia law. Lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender are propelled by prejudice, violence, and state-sponsored conversion practices. Reports about gender identity and sexual orientation in the mainstream media are censored by Qatari authorities.
The law discriminates against women. They have to ask men to exercise many basic rights. There are no anti-discriminatory laws in the Gulf state and functioning women organizations to keep an eye on how women are treated.
These activities foster stigma and discrimination which contradicts FIFA’s claim on promoting equality and human dignity.
The migrant workers who worked tirelessly to build stadiums faced a similar fate. There are 2.7 million people living in Qatar. However, Qatar (Arab) nationals make up less than 15 percent of the total population. The majority of the remaining population are laborers, most of them being immigrants from India, Nepal, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka.
About 6,500 South Asian migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have perished since 2010 in the Gulf state and 1,641 were from Nepal. This proves that the glittery and gleaming world cup 2022 in the deserted land is built entirely with workers’ blood, sweat and tears.
Most of the contractors did not uphold the official labor standards. They forced their employees to work up to 18 hours a day in oppressive temperatures and extreme working conditions, with little to no social benefits.
Study suggests that the workforce working in such abominable conditions were mainly from South Asia and Africa. They are paid very less wages, some have either not been paid and some have been paid months late. Families are not yet compensated by the contractors for the loss of their loved ones.
Now, Qatar authorities are shutting down buildings and evacuating apartment blocks evicting migrant workers from their shelters. The coercive measures taken by the authorities are intended to make it simpler for visiting soccer fans to find a stay in Qatar but painful for the laborers.
The 2022 World Cup has exposed Qatar’s track record on many paramount issues as it transgresses the fairness tenet of sports and politics. While fans across the world would want to see their favorite athlete Messi play and win his last World cup, there would be families and friends breaking down in tears in memory of their near and dear ones who lost their lives crafting a larger-than-life venue.
Susmita Lamsal is a freelance writer with interest in international relations, economy, finance and social issues.