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Qatar's contentious World Cup

By Kyan Wang Nov. 10, 2022

Ellie Kim Art

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is set to begin on Nov. 20 in Doha, Qatar, marking the first time a country in the Arab world has hosted the tournament. The best soccer players from around the world will compete in eight newly constructed stadiums, all supported with other infrastructure such as roads and hotels for billions to watch worldwide. The prestige of hosting the Cup is very appealing, even with its hefty price tag of over $200 billion. However, since Qatar’s initial bid to host the Cup in 2010, controversy has marred the tournament.

According to World Soccer Talk, FIFA is the highest governing body of international soccer and is responsible for deciding the World Cup host. The FIFA Council—which consisted of 24 FIFA officials from six continental organizations during the 2010 bidding process—voted for host countries, eliminating the lowest-performing countries until reaching a majority. The U.S., along with other international organizations, have accused Qatar of bribing officials—the country allegedly paid bribes of over $5 million to secure votes.

“Qatar, a small country with a small population and strict laws, should not have been chosen to host the World Cup. Because of the council system, a small number of bribed officials influenced the election enough to secure Qatar’s victory,” Sophomore Arya Jalayer said.

Qatar also follows an Islamic system of law, and with it comes restrictions on public alcohol consumption, LGBTQ+ rights and more taboo subjects such as swearing and “immodest” attire. To skirt the public drinking laws, Qatar plans to enact “sober zones’’ in stadiums where drunk fans will be temporarily kept until sober.

Qatar has also promised that LGBTQ+ couples will be able to hold hands without discrimination and will allow rainbow flags to be displayed, but AP News states that LGBTQ+ activists worry that Qatar’s poor track record of rights regarding same-sex relationships—which are criminalized in the country—could lead to repression towards LGBTQ+ fans there.

The stadiums’ construction practices have also come under scrutiny, as Qatar has been accused of exploiting migrant labor under the Kafala system. Under the system, migrant laborers, mostly from Africa and Asia, have their expenses paid for and are effectively controlled by private employers, who offer workers higher wages than those in their home country.

Ellie Kim Art

Amnesty International states that the lack of government oversight over the Kafala system allows the companies building the stadiums to exploit workers. The system permits private employers to block them from returning to their home countries through destroying passports, denies justice when migrants’ rights are violated and facilitates late or unpaid wages. Migrants also face excessive heat due to Qatar’s daily weather exceeding 100 F and a lack of food and water. Migrant workers who protested the poor conditions were arrested and detained in extremely hot detention centers without air conditioning before being deported.

“The Kafala system has led to thousands of deaths from poor working conditions and human rights abuses throughout the stadiums’ construction. These violations demand a response from the international community to raise awareness so that abused workers are not only compensated, but also protected with regulations that safeguard their rights,” Senior Elliot Marshall said.

While FIFA has stated it is open to paying $440 million towards reparations for the mistreated migrant workers, Marshall says the rest of the world should still stand up to FIFA to prevent further abuses. Qatar has contributed $164 million to a fund for 36,000 migrant workers to receive compensation and passed labor laws which it hopes will benefit workers, a move that has garnered praise from the Council of Europe. However, some organizations such as the Human Rights Watch say this fund, as well as other Qatari programs, are committing too little and too late to remedy the problem.

Ellie Kim Art

The concerns arising from Qatar hosting the World Cup underscore corruption in FIFA along with the country's controversial government policies regarding both fans and workers of the Cup. Soccer brings people together worldwide, but this year’s World Cup shows that the sport’s highest level of competition may not be as untarnished.


About the Contributors

Kyan Wang

staff writer

Kyan Wang is a sophomore at Leland High School and the Tech Columnist and staff writer for The Charger Account. In his free time, he enjoys wasting away on his computer and running.

Ellie Kim

art director

Ellie Kim is a senior at Leland High School and one of the art directors for The Charger Account. When she’s not doing schoolwork, she enjoys scrolling through Pinterest, making Spotify playlists and sleeping.

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