Opinion | Qatar unfit to host 2022 World Cup

A+boy+plays+with+a+ball+at+the+flag+plaza+in+Doha%2C+Qatar+on+Nov.+15.+Columnist+Maggie+Knutte+argues+that+Qatar+should+have+not+hosted+the+2022+FIFA+World+Cup+due+to+the+increase+in+deaths+of+migrant+workers+in+relation+to+the+stadiums+being+built+for+the+games.+

Photo courtesy of Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images/TNS

A boy plays with a ball at the flag plaza in Doha, Qatar on Nov. 15. Columnist Maggie Knutte argues that Qatar should have not hosted the 2022 FIFA World Cup due to the increase in deaths of migrant workers in relation to the stadiums being built for the games.

By Maggie Knutte, Columnist

The largest event for soccer worldwide has begun. The men’s FIFA World Cup is taking place in Qatar — the first time the event has been hosted in the Middle East. 

Ideally, this would have been a great achievement for the region. But ever since it was announced in 2010, it’s clear that the choice to hold the World Cup in Qatar was a mistake. Worst of all, it may have caused thousands of deaths. 

While the brand-new stadiums may look glamorous, they come at the expense of migrant workers. Qatar has put hundreds of billions of dollars into this World Cup, with construction expenses ranging from an airport to soccer stadiums. All these new projects needed workers to carry out construction. 

An article published by The Guardian connected 6,500 migrant workers’ deaths to construction for the 2022 World Cup. The increase in deaths of migrant workers correlates with the time Qatar began construction for this World Cup — starting back in 2011. While these findings have not been directly linked, there is a very strong correlation. 

Neglection of migrant workers in the extreme Qatar heat has been the primary cause of deaths. Working through summers when the heat reaches an average high of about 97.3 degrees Fahrenheit makes workers susceptible to heatstroke. Heatstroke, if not treated quickly, can lead to death. The mistreatment of migrant workers was the first red flag, appearing years before the event officially began.

Additionally, these extreme temperatures forced FIFA to alter the traditional timeline of the World Cup. For the first time, games are being played in November and December instead of during the summer. This has disrupted the schedules of other football leagues, including the English Premier League. Even playing in the winter, the high temperature can reach around 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Hosting the World Cup elsewhere could have avoided these inconveniences.

Human rights violations in Qatar have been a large concern. In Qatar, same-sex relations are punishable by a sentence of several years in prison or the death penalty. This has caused a massive backlash in the LGBTQ+ community across the world and fear in LGBTQ+ fans attending the World Cup. For an organization that claims inclusivity, FIFA does not seem to recognize the exclusion of an entire group by allowing Qatar to host. 

Qatar upholds its very conservative — and controversial — laws. Just 48 hours before the first kickoff game, Qatar announced that alcohol sales will be banned from all stadiums. This was not only upsetting to fans but caused issues with FIFA’s advertising deal with Budweiser — a deal worth $75 million. 

Along with the alcohol ban, players were banned from wearing any armbands that promoted inclusion or opposed discrimination. Captains often wear armbands during play to share messages. At this World Cup, several team captains planned to wear the “OneLove” armband to promote gender and sexuality inclusiveness. FIFA, however, banned the captains from wearing it. This caused players, officials and those across the globe to speak out against this upsetting decision. 

Controversies like this have distracted from the World Cup itself. An event that is supposed to be competitive and fun instead has become problematic and dangerous. Soccer should never cause a single death, let alone thousands. Hosting the World Cup in Qatar was a mistake that FIFA should not make again in the future. 

 

Maggie is a sophomore in LAS.

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