As some of you may know, the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held in Qatar which is a small country off the coast of Saudi Arabia. When Qatar won the bid to host the World Cup, the public eye looked at it as an expansion for the sport of soccer. Moving the world’s largest stage for the sport to a country that is growing in population while reaching out to an area untouched by events of this magnitude. Traditionally, the World Cup is held in the months of June and July, which also happens to be the hottest months in Qatar. The decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup is still looked upon as controversial due to the conditions that players, fans, and officials will have to bear which could potentially be very unsafe.
Playing in extreme heat is very dangerous, but an issue I believe even greater than this is migrant labour abuse. Recent reports and articles have spoken of the issue of foreign labourers in Qatar which is also being referred to as “modern day slavery.” The Guardian, an English newspaper has posted reports of severe abuse of migrant workers mainly from Nepal. It also stated but has to yet to confirm that the vast majority of these workers are being used to build the stadiums required to host the World Cup in 2022. Workers were stripped of their identification and passports preventing them from being able to leave, had their pay withheld, and were rarely given sufficient food and water. To put into perspective how poorly they were treated, workers were dying at a rate of one person per day during the summer of 2013. How could FIFA, an organization that uses the sport of soccer as a way to bring the world together and perform greater good in less fortunate countries allow for its main event to be hosted in a country that is using “slaves” to build their stadiums?
Here is an excerpt from the FIFA mission statement: “The world is a place rich in natural beauty and cultural diversity, but also one where many are still deprived of their basic rights. FIFA now has an even greater responsibility to reach out and touch the world, using football as a symbol of hope and integration.”
The last time I checked, freedom was a basic right and depriving that of the migrant workers in Qatar, who are making the World Cup possible by building the stadiums is contradictory to their own mission statement. I believe that their current policies should either be reviewed to prevent countries who commit crimes against humanity from hosting such prestigious events. Along with Qatar also brings the question of Russia hosting in 2018, should they be reconsidered as hosts due to their new anti-gay laws? Why do the general public not know about the ongoing issues in Qatar more than just a few brief articles? The World Cup is arguably the most watched sporting event in the world and to have a country who uses people as slaves as a host definitely will rub majority of viewers the wrong way, including myself.
– Jonathan Pecchia