‘Qatar Is A Mistake,’ Ex-FIFA Head Says: Here’s Why The 2022 World Cup Is Mired In Controversy

Forbes
Published 2 months ago
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TOPLINE

The controversial former boss of FIFA decried the organization awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar as a “bad choice” Tuesday, citing human rights issues in the country, adding to a growing chorus of criticism before the tournament kicks off later this month.

KEY FACTS

“Qatar is a mistake,” former FIFA president Sepp Blatter told Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, according to Reuters, saying the Middle Eastern country roughly the same size and population as Connecticut is “too small” for the event, noting the selection did not take “social considerations and human rights” into account, according to Reuters’ translation.

The upcoming World Cup has been a hot-button issue since FIFA selected the host under Blatter’s watch in 2012, chief among the issues Qatar’s treatment of workers constructing stadiums for the event.

Rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have denounced the ”appalling living conditions” for workers bordering on “modern slavery,” and thousands of worker deathshave been associated with the massive construction project.

Also causing a stir are the country’s stance on social issues: Homosexuality is a crime in Qatar, and women have limited rights, needing a male guardian’s approval to drive or leave the country.

Though organizers have assured LGBT fans they won’t face discrimination, the outcry escalated Monday after a Qatari World Cup ambassador said gay people have “damage in the mind.”

KEY BACKGROUND

Drama has also followed this World Cup inside of the stadium: This will be the first such tournament to take place in winter due to Qatar’s extreme summer heat, and the fan experience will be modified as well – public drunkenness is a crime in the country, and World Cup venues will featureareas for inebriated fans to sober up to avoid jail time. FIFA selected Qatar to host this year’s World Cup 10 years ago under the watch of Blatter, who was banned from FIFA in 2015 after the Department of Justice went publicwith allegations of widespread corruption at the organization. Last year, U.S. prosecutors accused FIFA officials of accepting bribes to award Qatar the tournament.

CHIEF CRITIC

“Qatar’s reforms are too little, too late and have major gaps,” Minky Worden, Human Rights Watch’s director of global initiatives, said in a statement last week about the country’s recent efforts to ease concerns about worker conditions. 

FURTHER READING

Why Qatar Is a Controversial Venue for 2022 World Cup (Washington Post)