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What Went Wrong with the Qatar World Cup?

The FIFA world cup is organized once every four years and it is one of the biggest football tournaments. This year Qatar is hosting FIFA this time and this has been surrounded by a lot of controversies. The world cup kick-started on November 20, stirring enthusiasm and excitement amongst all football fans. This 2022 FIFA World Cup has just begun and it has already gone through many backlashes and issues. From human rights violations to environmental issues, this World Cup has seen it all. 
Qatar is the first-ever desert country to host a major football tournament in their country. This World Cup has been surrounded by different kinds of controversies. However, Gianni Infantino, current FIFA president has defended the host country and promised this World Cup to be one of the most memorable ones. Let us have a look at some of the controversies that this world cup has been through.
Accused of Corruption and Bribery – Qatar is one of those countries that had never even qualified for the World Cup before and FIFA’s decision in 2010 to let them host the 2022 World Cup was a bit bizarre. Everyone in the world had doubts about this decision and many were shocked by this. People believed that members of the executive committee sold their votes and thus FIFA also suspended 2 of its men from the same committee. However, the reason for the suspension was never disclosed. Corrupt or not, this decision of choosing Qatar as the World Cup host has seemed to be pretty indigestible for people. Nevertheless, the number of investigations, indictments, arrests, etc. has shattered the public’s confidence in this world cup.

The exploitation of migrant workers – FIFA World Cup has been under the constant controversy of exploiting migrant workers for the tournament’s infrastructure. Qatar requires billions of dollars to host this massive event. Investments need to be done for building stadiums, accommodation of players, transportation, infrastructure, etc. Qatar reportedly spent $220 billion for this tournament and has been charged with exploiting the migrant workers to keep costs low. The consequences of this World Cup have already become deadly and the employers still give them power over those poor workers’ lives. Qatar has already stridden over labor rights and the human rights group has constantly been vocal about this situation.

Discrimination against women – Qatar has faced major criticism for discriminating against women and women’s rights. Women in Qatar have to take permission from their male guardians before making any decisions such as studying abroad, traveling abroad, reproductive health care, working in government jobs, guardianship for children, divorce, etc. Women in Qatar face serious repercussions for having extramarital affairs. They also have to face 7 years of imprisonment for the flagellation penalty. Even during the World Cup, many women working here had to face discrimination and exploitation just because of their gender.

LGBT issues – Qatar has never been supportive of the LGBT people and during the World Cup, this country has been surrounded by innumerable controversies due to this very reason. The civil rights of LGBT people have been in attendance as homosexuality is illegal in Qatar. The reports have also stated that Qatar has been cruel to LGBT people and they treat these people with ill-treatment in detention. There also have been rumours that Qatar is going to introduce medical screening tests, so that they can ban homosexual people from entering the country. However, it was later revealed that no such tests are going to be introduced. They also allowed the rainbow flag in the World Cup and FIFA association assured that LGBT couples won’t face arrest while kissing or holding hands in public. Also, shortly after the commencement of the World Cup, Khalid Salman (World Cup ambassador), described homosexuality as damage in mind.

Cultural and Political issues – Qatar is the smallest country by land area to be hosting this World Cup. Qatar was ranked 113 in 2010, at the time of being awarded as the host of this tournament. Qatar has never even won any major football cup but Arabian Gulf Cup. These facts raised some unanswered questions amongst the people and hence it made them not suitable for hosting the World Cup. Qatar has also offered several incentives to uncapped players from other nations to change their allegiance. Also, Qatar lost their first match 2-0 against Ecuador and it became the first ever World Cup hosting country to lose a match.

Environment-related controversies – Hosting World Cups always leaves a serious impact on the environment. FIFA claimed that this year’s football world cup will be the first-ever carbon-neutral world cup. However, this claim was soon declared misleading and dangerous. The World Cup in general is harsh on the environment due to several issues such as the construction of hotels, and stadiums, excess usage of transport for traveling of players and fans, accommodation arrangements, flooding, etc. Qatar’s plan to reduce the amount of carbon emission is not going. The amount of carbon produced in this world cup was estimated to be 3.6 million tonnes. The promises of the organizers to host a carbon-neutral World Cup have gone in vain. According to the reports, the carbon footprint of Qatar’s world cup is way more than 10 million tonnes, which is three times the estimated emission. FIFA promised many things to reduce carbon emissions in the World Cup such as electric buses, energy-efficient stadiums, low-emission transportation, etc. But unfortunately, most of these things are just left in the air. 

        Author – Swati Chandra

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