In 2010, it was announced that Qatar would host the 2022 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup. To say this decision was controversial would be a bit of an understatement.
Indeed, upon the announcement of Qatar’s successful bid, the overwhelming reaction was a question of how? Outrage has been palpable, and numerous fans, media sources and even international government officials have cited a number of problems with Qatar’s hosting.
Even outgoing FIFA executive committee member Theo Zwanziger admitted on Tuesday that Qatar should be stripped of the World Cup, though he also noted that would only be possible if it could be proven that awarding Qatar the World Cup broke FIFA’s ethics rules.
One of the key concerns is the climate. The World Cup is typically held in the northern hemisphere summer, where temperatures in Qatar can skyrocket to well above 100°. FIFA confirmed last November that this would likely result in the 2022 World Cup being held in the winter, which presents a number of issues.
For one, there are a number of major international events that occur within months of each other during that time span, including Christmas in December, the Winter Olympics in February, and Ramadan in April. Even if all of these are avoided, the issue remains that a World Cup in the winter will disrupt almost every major European league right in the middle of their seasons.
There are a number of other practical issues to consider: FIFA is no stranger to allegations of corruption, and the accusations of bribery have been particularly numerous for the 2022 World Cup.
Additionally, one of FIFA’s major sponsors is Budweiser, and Qatar has notoriously strict alcohol laws. Accommodations are being made, but concern lingers regardless.
Not every concern with Qatar’s hosting the World Cup is practical in nature. In fact, the absolute biggest concern is the allegations of slave labor being used to handle the construction of the stadiums for the World Cup.
The Guardian reported in September 2013 that Nepalese migrant workers were facing brutal conditions akin to “modern-day slavery”. Outrage since then has been immense.
Even in the unlikely case that the allegations of slavery are exaggerated; the mortality rate for the workers is high. 185 Nepalese workers died during a construction effort in 2013, and the International Trade Union Confederation released a report in March 2014 that stated that 4,000 or more additional workers could die in the years leading up to the World Cup in 2022.
Another potential human rights issue is that as of right now, in Qatar homosexuality has been outlawed. This has led to outrage similar to what was seen when Russia hosted the Winter Olympics in Sochi last year.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter made matters worse when he joked “I would say they should refrain from any sexual activities.” While he was quick to add that he did not anticipate problems during the World Cup itself, it is nonetheless a serious concern, especially as support for same-sex marriage continues to grow worldwide.
Ultimately, there are a number of serious reasons to strip Qatar of its successful bid. At the very least, FIFA should seriously investigate every claim being levied against the country, particularly those related to the allegations of slavery, and it take it upon itself to rectify whatever issues it has the authority to.
If this is not done, the nations that have traditionally taken part in the World Cup should consider boycotting.