Updated: May 30
Many of you will be aware of the Football World Cup, which started in Qatar on the 20th of November with the opening match between the host nation and Ecuador. The World Cup is not only a football celebration but also an opportunity for global countries to demonstrate unity and a common goal of sport that transcends cultural and racial barriers.
However, arguments rage on about whether the sport should get involved in and make comments on international and national politics, with FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) stating:
“…football should not be "dragged" into ideological or political "battles". - bbc.co.uk, 2022
In response, European football federations state:
This has never been more apparent than during the current World Cup.
Why is Qatar's hosting of the World Cup causing controversy?
Qatar’s selection, 12 years ago to hold this World Cup, was initially controversial; although at face value, they were democratically elected by FIFA’s executive representatives from across the world.
However, at the time, they were accused of paying FIFA officials £3 million, although this allegation was cleared after an investigation lasting over 2 years.
They are the first Arab nation to host the World Cup.
Stories of corruption and bribery, which directly contravene FIFA’s own Code of Conduct and ethics, have been widespread. This includes the topics below:
Health and Safety
Part of the construction of the World Cup stadia and infrastructure within Qatar is based on labour sourced primarily from immigrants from Asia. According to the Guardian newspaper, 6,500 people have been killed by health and safety breaches. This includes heart and respiratory failures from working in blistering heat, with another 37,600 suffering from mild to moderate injuries.
However, the Qatar government disputes this and states that there were only 37 deaths among labourers at World Cup stadium construction sites, only three of which were "work-related."
Homosexuality is deemed immoral under Islamic Sharia law, with possible punishments ranging from fines to stoning to death. Qatari forces, according to a Human Rights Watch report, continue to arrest citizens who are LGBTQ+, sometimes forcing them to undergo conversion therapy.
Despite this, Qatar has officially stated that everyone is welcome, although visitors should respect their culture.
Footballers are making a moral stand by taking a knee and wearing rainbow OneLove armbands which are being penalised by FIFA officials stating that it contravenes their guidelines about wearing “extra equipment". Red/yellow cards and fines are said to be some of the punishments given out by FIFA for wearing unapproved armbands, arguably intimidating footballers’ personal choices in a "1984-Esque" ‘Big Brother’ regime.
If you wish to read more about this topic, additional reading can be found at:
Play our penalty shoot-out game to test your World Cup and Equality knowledge by clicking the link below:
Discussion point for British Values
What is the dichotomy between Western/British values of Equality and Diversity/Tolerance of others and the other British value of Respect for others’ culture?