The Controversy of The World Cup in Qatar
Lucy Poots, Grade 9, Staff Writer
The world cup in Qatar, which kicked off on November 20, 2022, was nothing less than controversial. A tiny country in the Persian Gulf, Qatar faced serious criticism concerning bribery, treatment of migrant workers, and exclusion of the LGBTQ+ community.
How was a country that is home to a range of human rights concerns selected to host one of the most important sporting events in the world? What is the criteria in the selection process? Should we care?
The host country is selected by the International Association Football Federation (FIFA). The process of choosing a host country begins with the bidding process, which takes place 7 to 10 years in advance. Nations have one month to complete the bid registration documents.
The bids are evaluated based on the compliance assessment, the risk assessment, and the technical evaluation report. The first category, the compliance assessment, assesses whether the country’s bid matches the fixed hosting conditions, and if the country’s bid has followed the bidding process’s rules.
The second category, the risk assessment, evaluates how the country’s finance, human rights, and sustainability would be affected by hosting the World Cup. Finally, the third category, the technical evaluation report, determines if the host country is able to meet the commercial and infrastructural standards that the World Cup demands.
From there, FIFA narrows the list and removes the nations whose bids do not fit their desired criteria. Finally, FIFA’s congress votes, and the nation with the majority of votes is determined the host.
Despite this seemingly organized system, cheating and bribery ran rampant during the bidding process for the most recent tournament. Multiple South American officials received payments to vote for Qatar as the host, according to the United States Department of Justice following a lengthy investigation. Construction for the 2022 World Cup has also been controversial.
Although Qatar is a very wealthy country, it is the size of Connecticut. In order to meet FIFA standards, Qatar spent $220 billion building the infrastructure for the games. During this process, workers endured harsh conditions, were underpaid, and hundreds died in the process.
Should FIFA have clear guidelines as to how laborers should be treated? Or is this Qatar’s responsibility?
“If you’re going to host a giant soccer tournament, they should make sure the workers aren't underpaid or dying because of it,” said Kaela Glaser, a ninth grader at the High School of American Studies.
“The rules should be determined by the host country, but if FIFA sees that they’re being negated or wrongly treated at the expense of the world cup, then it becomes FIFA’s problem,” added Stella Kross, a ninth grader at HSAS.
FIFA, silent on workers’ rights, has been vocal on other fronts. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, and the LGBTQ+ community have been assaulted, arrested, and mistreated. FIFA decided to step in when soccer players wanted to wear “OneLove'' armbands.
In an effort to silently show support to the LGBTQ+, the captains of seven European teams were going to wear the bands to spread the message that everyone on the field is equal, no matter the wider laws of the host country. FIFA, however, ruled against the armbands, and threatened the players with a yellow card if they chose to wear them.
This decision created heated debates around the world.
“People should be able to express themselves without being penalized,” said Evalina Lock, a ninth grader at HSAS.
Ezra DiPietra, another ninth grade HSAS student, believes that FIFA should not interfere in people’s right to express their support for inclusion. “The players should be allowed to express their views and opinions, because they have worked their whole life to get to this point, and for them to be undermined isn’t fair.”
FIFA responded to the global outcry with its own “No Discrimination” armbands, and the FIFA President Gianni Infantino emphasized his support of the LGBTQ+ community. Questions about bribery and human rights records - including for migrant workers and the legal inclusion of LGBTQ+ at host countries - have yet to be answered.