The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been met with controversy since the country won its bid 12 years ago. In the years following, there have been allegations of both bribery and poor working conditions that led to the deaths of thousands of migrant workers.
There are also worries about the country’s human rights violations, and, to a much smaller scale, its limitations on alcohol consumption. With the country reversing its stance on the sale of alcohol in its venue 48 hours before the kickoff of the first game, many are concerned about what else the nation may renege on.
Here’s an outline of how the 2022 FIFA World Cup came to Qatar and what’s happened since.
Qatar won the bid for the 2022 World Cup over the likes of the U.S., South Korea, Australia and Japan in December 2010. It became the first Middle Eastern country to earn a bid.
Shortly after, corruption cases formed that ended with several convictions of soccer and FIFA officials, among other executives. In 2019, French soccer player and former head of European soccer, Michel Patini, and former FIFA president Sepp Blatter were charged with fraud after an investigation into a $2 million payment. They were later cleared of charges.
In April of 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice stated that representatives working for Russia (the 2018 World Cup host) and Qatar bribed FIFA officials to secure hosting rights, per the New York Times. Prosecutors made accusations of wire fraud and money laundering. Qatar has denied the allegations.
Qatar is a very small country, so much so that the state of Connecticut is larger — and houses 700,000 more people. It’s the smallest country to ever host the World Cup, and because of that — and the million or more expected to attend the events — Qatar sought to build seven new stadiums, an airport, a metro system, new roads and approximately 100 new hotels.
Thousands of migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Kenya, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and more arrived to complete the job. However, they were exploited in the process and forced to work in dangerous conditions.
Qatar states that just 37 deaths occurred with links to the construction of World Cup facilities (and that just three were work-related). However, a report by The Guardian suggests as many as 6,500 migrant workers have died since Qatar was awarded hosting rights.
Though their money may be welcome at the time of the event, Qatar’s stance on several human rights issues are frightening.
Women are required permission by a male guardian to marry, study abroad, work government jobs, travel, have access to reproductive healthcare and more.
The nation’s penal code criminalizes sex outside of marriage, which has led to the prosecution of victims of rape.
Homosexuality is criminalized as well, with men seeing punishments up to seven years in prison.
In an interview on November 8, a Qatar World Cup ambassador told a German television broadcaster that homosexuality was “damage in the mind.”
LGBTQ people in Qatar are subject to conversion camps, harassment by authorities or even imprisonment.
Amnesty.org outlines more.
Typically, World Cups begin in June or July, but Qatar’s scorching hot summers reach more than 97 degrees Fahrenheit on average. For the sake of player safety, the games are, for the first time, starting in November.
As a result, competitive soccer leagues such as England’s Premier League are on a two-month hiatus. Athletes have had much less time to prepare for this World Cup and will have to return to competition with little break after the games.
The World Cup is closely associated with alcohol. It is the world’s biggest sporting competition, after all. This year, it's hosted in a conservative Muslim country that limits where alcohol can be consumed. That's suddenly become a problem.
Budweiser pays $75 million for World Cup association and, eight days before opening kickoff, learned of concerns the New York Times is reporting that are coming from the country’s royal family. Two days before the first match, pressure was applied on FIFA to stop the sale of alcohol inside stadiums.
This was the second sudden and swift reversal of decisions made ahead of the start of the tournament. In August, the start of the World Cup was advanced an entire day despite being planned for seven years.
Team USA is showing support for the LGBTQ community with a rainbow-themed logo inside their training facility in Qatar. They will not wear the crest on the pitch.
“We’re a group that believes in inclusivity, and we’ll continue to project that going forward,” goalkeeper Sean Johnson said.
Despite rumors that Dua Lipa would perform at the 2022 World Cup, she has confirmed she will not. “I will not be performing and nor have I ever been involved in any negotiation to perform,” she said on Instagram. “I will be cheering England on from afar, and I look forward to visiting Qatar when it has fulfilled all the human rights pledges it made when it won the right to host the World Cup.”
Singer Rod Stewart also claimed he was offered seven figures to perform, but turned it down. “I was actually offered a lot of money, over $1 million, to play there 15 months ago,” Stewart told The Times. “It’s not right to go. And the Iranians should be out too for supplying arms [to Russia].”