Turn it off – stop supporting the Qatar world cup

Gabriella Rouas

For decades, the bright lights, roar of the fans and swish of a soccer ball into a goal have brought 32 nations to one destination, the World Cup. In order to select a host country for the event – which reaches an audience of around 5 billion – a vote is taken by the International Federation of Association Football’s (FIFA) congress under a ballot system. The chosen host country is picked seven years before the actual World Cup. Considering the optimal energy, resources and time FIFA has, they should be able to choose a safe, accepting and capable country. This calls into question why Qatar was selected. Qatar’s labor practices have killed thousands of immigrants and their strict outlooks have excluded and threatened LGBTQ+ fans. FIFA should recognize that picking a country to host the World Cup that does not have the proper infrastructure already in place can create a rushed and dangerous environment for the workers rapidly trying to create these stadiums and hotels, however, FIFA neglects these important factors.

Fans of sports teams and the World Cup alike should come together and boycott the 2022 FIFA World Cup held in Qatar. The horrific and abusive working conditions workers were subjected to in order to create the lacking infrastructure, as well as the legal discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, should be recognized.

Many people argue that ignoring the World Cup would be a disservice to the athletes and teams that have spent copious amounts of time preparing for the tournament. However, the exciting and powerful atmosphere of the World Cup should bring people together – not tear them apart. Although players may have dedicated a lot of time to practicing, this is not an excuse to support a homophobic country responsible for hundreds of deaths. 

In order to build the massive infrastructure needed to house teams and fans, Qatar spent over $300 billion to build stadiums and hotels, making it one of the most expensive World Cups in history. This massive creation of previously non-existent infrastructure has come at a high cost. Qatar has been bringing in laborers from Nepal in order to finish building on time. According to Time Magazine, this summer, Nepalese workers died at a rate of one every other day due to the Qatar working conditions. With Qatar summers averaging 106 degrees Fahrenheit, workers have reported that they were denied drinking water and worked without food for 24 hours. Qatar must be held accountable for their abuse of human rights – not having the proper environment is no excuse to subject y
our workers to dangerous working conditions.

According to Qatar’s Penal Code 2004, same-sex sexual activity is prohibited and can be punished with seven years of jail time. In October 2013, Qatar proposed to introduce a test to prevent LGBTQ+ people from entering the country. This strict discrimination against the community has seeped into the World Cup, as an official advisor, Khalid Salman, condemned homosexuality as “damage in the mind.” These offenses have sparked outrage and questions towards FIFA, who has promised that, “There is no risk; [people in the LGBTQ+ community] are welcome to express themselves; they are welcome to express their love for their partners.” Despite this message, multiple fans have exposed officials for preventing them from entering the stadiums when wearing rainbow bucket hats and shirts. European nations planned to have their team captains wear “One Love” rainbow armbands, but ultimately decided against it after Qatar said they would be punished. It is clear that no matter the reassurances that FIFA gives fans, nothing will trump Qatar’s resistance to cultures outside its own.

It is clear that Qatar is a discriminatory presence that threatens LGBTQ+ lifestyles, but FIFA is in the shadows, hiding and promoting this dangerous behavior. FIFA should change the qualifications necessary for host countries in order to make sure these potential host countries have the proper infrastructure to hold the event and are respectful to all the different lifestyles of soccer fans. 

When expressing this view on Qatar and FIFA, I have heard countless people say, “It’s not the players’ fault!” and “People just want to come together!” but whenever I turn on the television, I see a different story. I see the huge stretch of green lawn surrounded by the massive stadium. I see the blood, sweat, hunger and immense amount of death that went into creating an event that was supposed to be positive. I see the lies, greed and mismanagement that is behind the massive entity of FIFA. So I pick up the remote, and I turn it off.