The FIFA World Cup will take place in Qatar from 21 November to 18 December 2022. Qatar won the secret ballot in 2010, beating the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea. From the very beginning, the organization of the World Cup was accompanied by a number of controversies. Why is this event so controversial and what is it about?
Among the first, less controversial questions are the popularity of football in Qatar, its past and successes to date. Qatar ranked 113th in the world rankings in 2010 and has never qualified for the World Cup. In terms of area and population, it is the smallest country that had the honor of hosting the tournament. Due to the lack of quality players, Qatar decided to naturalize some foreign players, as a result which FIFA has tightened the rules for setting up national teams.
The second issue Qatar faced immediately after the nomination was climate. The World Cup is played in in the summer months, when the temperature in Qatar often reaches 50 °C. Such an environment is extreme for players, but also for fans. Players have to rest longer between matches, are more prone to mistakes and are practically unable to acclimatize during the month. In addition, for the fans, the open stadium would have to be sufficiently air-conditioned, which would mean huge demands on technology and energy consumption.
For these reasons, serious consideration began already in 2013 of postponing the tournament into the winter months. However, this did not go without problems. In January and February 2022, football would clash with the Winter Olympics in Beijing, in December with the Christmas holidays, and previously with various league matches. FIFA eventually decided to postpone the deadline.
As a result of the postponement, the American television companies Fox and Telemundo demanded compensation from FIFA. The rights to broadcast the broadcast had already been purchased, and the change in date conflicted with the NFL match. FIFA eventually compensated the stations for the free broadcasting of the 2026 World Cup.
In 2011, the first suspected corruption emerged in FIFA's leadership of Qatar. Qatar allegedly bribed African officials to strengthen its chances of winning the nomination. A series of other corruption scandals occurred in 2014 and resulted in the arrest of 7 FIFA officials on 27 May 2015. In 2019, there was a suspicion that Qatari's Al Jazeera television had offered FIFA officials an additional $100 million for broadcasting rights if Qatar won a World Cup nomination. On June 18, 2019, the then UEFA president was arrested for accepting the bribe.
Another major controversy over Qatar's World Cup is Qatar's approach to human rights issues. Qatar's legal system is based on Islamic Sharia law, which, among other things, outlaws homosexuality. Qatar granted an exception for the tournament, stressing that LGBT players are being called out and that LGBT symbols are allowed in the stadium.
A far worse problem in relation to human rights was the construction of facilities, which involved a huge number of foreign workers, especially from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Reporters from several newsletters have shown the appalling conditions in which workers find themselves. Workers are often deprived of their travel document upon arrival and prevented from changing employers without their consent. Long working hours in severe heat and poor security conditions end in many deaths. Many workers also did not receive wages for many months, becoming virtually slaves. According to available data from embassies, at least 6750 foreign workers died between 2010 and 2020.
After winning the nomination, Qatar has committed itself to improving the position of foreign workers. But that only happened after the pressure and after a long time. In any case, the minimum wage was raised, the employer's consent to the change of employer was abolished, compliance checks were improved, and during the COVID-19 epidemic, funds were set aside to help quarantined workers.
Over time, there have also been further controversies and frictions, such as the construction costs of the sport venues, the Russian invasion of Ukraine or drinking alcohol during the tournament. However, none led to the cancellation of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. There is practically nothing in the way of this, and at the end of the autumn of this year we can look forward to the spectacular sporting event that the World Cup undoubtedly is.