Damning reports about immigrant worker deaths, the country’s human rights record and same-sex union laws and questions about the bidding process have made this year’s soccer competition the most controversial in history.
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For the first time in history, the FIFA World Cup will not be played in summer, but in winter, from November 18 to December 21. Temperatures in Qatar in summer, which reach between 40º and 50º Celsius, make a summer tournament impossible. The selection of the tiny but wealthy country as a host nation has led to a raft of controversy and opened debate on the biggest question of all: is money the only ball that moves the world of soccer?
The selection process that saw Qatar was chosen as the host nation for the Qatar Football World Cup in December 2010, as well as the award of the 2018 tournament to Russia at the same time, were the detonator that led to the 2015 FIFA corruption case, which led to 14 indictments by the FBI and ended the decade and a half reign of Sepp Blatter as president of soccer’s world governing body. It was the first time in FIFA World Cup history that two host nations were announced at the same time. The election process is based on the votes of the 24 members of FIFA’s Executive Committee.
FIFA vice-president and president of the Spanish Football Federation at the time, Angel Maria Villar, was convinced that a joint bid by Portugal and Spain was going to be awarded the 2018 Football World Cup. What Villar did not know was that votes were allegedly bought while there was a subsequent interchange between Russia and Qatar to favour their respective victories, with additional pressure being applied to ensure that the name of Qatar emerged from the envelope in Blatter’s hand.
The president of UEFA at the time, Michel Platini, later admitted that nine days before the Qatar Football World Cup election he held a meeting at the Elysee Palace with the then-president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, during which the latter laid out the convenience of promoting Qatar’s bid. The French National Finance Prosecutor’s Office maintains an open investigation focused on the economic benefits allegedly obtained by Sarkozy through his relationship with Qatar.
FIFA, which stands to make a profit of some $4.5 billion 85% of its income over the four-year World Cup cycle did not dare to take the tournament away from Qatar because, without being able to prove the alleged corruption, it would have faced a multi-million-dollar lawsuit. What did arise from the process was institutional change: now FIFA’s 178 national federations vote on the Football World Cup host nation, and those votes are made public. Via this process, the joint bid of the United States, Mexico and Canada was awarded the 2026 tournament.
Human rights in Qatar for Qatar Football World Cup
The FIFA Congress held the day before the draw for the 2022 World Cup on 31 March was laced with the standard self-congratulatory praise for the organization, at least until the president of the Norwegian Football Federation, Lise Klaveness, took the podium and shattered the contrived harmony in the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center. What Klaveness had to say reverberated around the world: “In 2010 World Cups were awarded by FIFA in unacceptable ways with unacceptable consequences. Human rights, equality, democracy: the core interests of football were not in the starting XI until many years later. For more to know about Qatar World Cup tickets Click here.
These basic rights were pressured onto the field as substitutes by outside voices. FIFA has addressed these issues but there’s still a long way to go. There is no room for employers who do not secure the freedom and safety of World Cup workers. No room for leaders who cannot host the women’s game. No room for hosts that cannot legally guarantee the safety and respect of the LGBTQ+ people coming to this theatre of dreams.”
Klaveness’ speech shed light on two of the questions that have caused the most controversy during Qatar’s highly publicized World Cup preparations: the deaths of migrant workers from Nepal, India and Bangladesh while building the stadiums for the tournament in subhuman employment conditions, and the accusations of “sports washing” on the part of the soccer industry for regimes with questionable human rights records. An August 2021 Amnesty International report accused Qatar of failing to investigate the deaths of thousands of migrant workers over the past decade, while a Guardian investigation put the number of deaths among workers on stadiums and other World Cup-related infrastructure at 6,500.
The dilemma in Qatar
The Qatar World Cup has opened up a fresh debate over whether the sport should be used to contribute to the opening up of authoritarian regimes by awarding international sporting events, or whether a policy of isolation should remain in place. The response of FIFA president Gianni Infantino to Klaveness’ speech went some way to explaining the governing body’s stance: “From the outset, we have pressured the authorities in Qatar and we have found in them a willing partner in terms of implementing changes in human rights,” Infantino said, adding that Qatar had shown “exemplary” commitment to the issue.
FIFA has also pointed to positive reports from the International Labour Organization and the United Nations. Qatar has stated that the display of LGBTQI+ banners and symbols will not be banned during the World Cup, despite Qatari law expressly condemning homosexuality. Last December, the president of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), Nasser Al-Khater, said that members of the LGBTQ+ community will be welcomed at the World Cup, but should avoid public displays of affection out of respect for Qatari culture.
A rich man’s game in Qatar
One of the peculiarities of the 2022 World Cup is the distance that separates the eight host stadiums, all of which are within a 50-kilometre radius of each other. This means that fans can attend two or even three games in a single day. FIFA sold 800,000 tickets during the first sale offer and hopes to reach three million ticket sales overall. However, one of the drawbacks for the average fan is finding somewhere affordable to stay. Those fans with deep pockets will have no problem because Qatar has a huge high-range hotel offering and there are plans to anchor luxury liners on the country’s coasts. Accommodating fans with fewer means is something both FIFA and the SC are looking into.
Playing a winter World Cup
When Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup, there was no immediate plan to change the dates of the tournament from its traditional summer staging despite temperatures of over 40º Celsius during the Qatari summer. However, in 2015 it was decided that the tournament would be moved to the cooler winter months of November and December. This has caused a serious issue with domestic football calendars, with league and cup competitions the world over forced to halt for a month, as well as continental tournaments such as the Champions League.
The counter-argument is that the World Cup will benefit from having players at the peak of their fitness, with fatigue often proving to be an important factor at summer tournaments when international squads are coming off the back of a gruelling nine- or 10-month season.
Paris Saint-Germain Club to Be Put On Sale After FIFA World Cup 2022?
According to a Spanish show, PSG’s Qatari owners would relinquish control by the end of 2021, claiming that the club’s lifespan ends in six months. The Qatar Sports Investment (QSI), a closed shareholder organization that owns Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), is seeking to sell the French club after the 2022 FIFA World Cup, claimed a Spanish television programme on El Chiringuito TV, on Monday.
According to the television show, PSG’s Qatari owners would relinquish control of the club by the end of the year, claiming that the club’s “lifespan ends in six months.” So, will PSG be sold after the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022? This is what we know so far.
Paris Saint-Germain has “categorically” and “completely” denied the claim of a possible sale of the club after the FIFA World Cup, according to RMC Sport. Calling the report “false”, PSG noted in its statement that the news coming from a “cheap Spanish media outlet” is no coincidence.
Paris Saint-Germain has garnered unprecedented popularity in the last few years since the QSI took charge of the French club. The Qatari group bought PSG in 2011 and turned it into one of the biggest football clubs, not just in Europe but in the entire world. However, it is a well-known fact that the current President of PSG, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, is not happy with the club’s performance and how they have been fraying across competitions.
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