Written by Amelia Malheiro Ebrecht, Emanuela Laux, and Dario Herrera Segura
The 2022 football world cup took place from the 20th of November to the 18th of December in Qatar. In total, there were 64 matches with 32 participating teams in eight groups of four. For the World Cup 2022 to occur in Qatar, 8 Stadiums had to be built. On December 2, 2010, the FIFA President granted Qatar the honor of hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022. Unfortunately, hosting the World Cup in Qatar was a bad choice from just about every possible perspective.
Rules in Qatar
In general, the world cup being hosted in Qatar was extremely controversial. Recently, even the former head of FIFA called the selection of Qatar a mistake. Among the several controversies about the World Cup being hosted in Qatar, a great deal of fans are upset about the rules the country is imposing on the participants. The regulation that has received the most criticism is that homosexuality is highly criminalized in Qatar. One of the major Qatari ambassadors described homosexuality as being “damaged in the mind”. Any “acts of sodomy or immorality” between men or women are punishable with up to seven years in prison. The so-called “intigators or enticers” are also punishable with up to three years of imprisonment.
Sadly, most Qatari people believe and agree with this ideology, therefore LGBTQ+ people in Qatar are often subjected to conversion therapy and harassment. For the World Cup, Qatar has agreed to let LGBTQ+ people enter the country under the condition that they must not perform any acts of intimacy such as kissing, hugging, or holding hands. The Qatari embassy stated “Everybody will be welcome in Qatar for the World Cup. We simply ask all visitors to appreciate and respect our culture, just as they would if they were traveling elsewhere in the region and in other parts of the world”.
Clearly, these statements have caused many problems for the participants of the World Cup, and unfortunately, this is only one of the several rules Qatar has imposed on spectators. Another significant rule is Qatar’s criminalization of sex outside of marriage, which has unfortunately led to the prosecution of rape victims. Some of the other less serious regulations in Qatar are no alcohol, no vapes/e-cigarettes, no immodesty, and no intimacy in public, even within heterosexual relationships. In general, there is almost zero freedom of expression in Qatar. These issues were also noticed by the Human Rights Watch since, evidently, several codes of human rights are not respected in Qatar.
Corruption in Qatar
When FIFA awarded Qatar the right to host the 2022 World Cup in December 2010, many expressed shock. Not only has Qatar never played in a World Cup, but it was and is a very small Middle Eastern country bordered only by Saudi Arabia. Its location makes access very impractical, and the very high temperatures mean the World Cup is held in winter rather than in the summer.
Also, it was very surprising to many that, as previously mentioned, a country that had never participated in the World Cup won the privilege of hosting the event against bigger countries that have had a major impact on the event, such as the United States, Japan, or even Australia.
Given that allegations of corruption had been circulating for some time, this aroused enough suspicion to open an investigation. Less than two months before, the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were announced, two board members had been suspended for selling votes. Additionally, Mohammed Bin Hammam, a Qatari football official and former member of FIFA’s executive committee, was banned from FIFA for life in 2011 because of other corruption charges and allegedly paying millions in votes for Qatar to host the World Cup. Nine years later, in April 2020, the Ministry of Justice released evidence of corruption by three FIFA officials, who accepted bribes from anonymous intermediates. Since the start of these allegations, Qatari officials have denied any charges against them.
Forced Labour in Qatar
Migrants from India, Nepal, and Bangladesh are employed in Qatar under bad conditions. They are abused and exploited while FIFA makes huge profits. In total, around 30 000 foreign labourers were hired just to build the stadiums.
Amnesty International has researched how the workers in Qatar are being exploited. These were the results: The migrants seek work in Qatar to escape poverty and unemployment in their countries. Many of the workers are in debt, which makes them scared to leave their jobs once they get to Qatar. Though, to get a job, they must pay a fee from US$500-US$4300 to the recruitment agents in their home country.
The migrant workers don’t live in appropriate conditions. Most of them share a room with eight or more people with up to four beds. Qatari law and the Workers’ Welfare Standards don’t accept bed sharing and allow a maximum of four beds per room. It is also forbidden to use bunk beds.
The migrants are being lied to about their salary. One worker was promised a salary of US$300 a month in Nepal, this turned out to be US$190 when he started to work in Qatar. Workers mentioned this to the recruitment agents and were subsequently threatened to have their visas canceled and be sent back to their home country.
Not only are they lied to about their salaries but sometimes the salaries are paid with a huge delay. This causes a lot of trouble for most of the workers since they have to feed their families, send money back home, and pay for their children’s education, etc. Prem, a metal worker at Khalifa stadium, said: “My family is now homeless, and two of my younger children have been taken out of school…. every day I am in tension, I cannot sleep at night. This is torture for me”.
The migrants from India, Nepal, and Bangladesh are not allowed to leave the country or change their jobs. The workers admit that they never saw their passports again after giving them to their employers. There are many cases in which workers want to leave the country. To do this, they need an “exit permit”, granted by the employers. The request for the permit is usually either ignored, or the migrants are told that they can’t leave until their contract is up.
Lastly, migrants are threatened and intimidated by their employers if they complain about their conditions or seek help. Their employers have their passports, which makes it easier to threaten the workers and easier to end their jobs.