World Cup 2022: The Beautiful Game’s Ugly Construction
The World Cup is supposed to be a time when the whole globe comes together to watch and celebrate as countries battle on the soccer pitch. Over 3.5 billion viewers tuned in to the last Men’s World Cup in 2018. This competition is seen as the pinnacle of what is likely the most popular sport worldwide. So, what could possibly go wrong with such a beautiful competition? Surprisingly, the answer is quite simple: allowing Qatar to host it.
Now let me explain a little bit of the background of how they got the gig for 2022. Countries send bids to host the World Cup to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA for short. This process usually occurs about a decade before the competition takes place. The countries competing to host the 2022 World Cup were Qatar, Japan, Australia, South Korea, and the United States. Obviously, Qatar ended up winning, but the way that they won is still under scrutiny as there may have been some money slipped under the table to higher-ups within FIFA. In fact, 11 of the 22 voters for the 2022 World Cup ended up being punished for corruption, with an investigation of the voting still going on today. But I’ll save that for another article. In this article, we’re merely looking at what Qatar is doing now that they got the bid.
The first problem with the Qatar World Cup is that due to the climate in Qatar, the competition has to be played in November and December, interrupting club soccer. This deviates from the normal schedule of the World Cup, every four years in the summer, and also forces domestic leagues and continental competitions to shift their schedules to accommodate.
The second and far more drastic issue with this World Cup is the construction of the stadiums themselves. Since Qatar’s bid was accepted in late 2010, they have been frantically working to build the necessary infrastructure to host such a large event. An estimated 30,000 workers from Nepal, Kenya, and other countries have been tasked with the gruesome job of building it all. Unfortunately, as Zac Rayson explains in his article, these migrant workers are being exploited in these jobs. Thousands of workers have been left without pay or severely underpaid. Even worse, in his article, Rayson writes that “In June, the government of Nepal revealed figures which showed that 1,426 Nepali workers in Qatar had passed away between 2009 and 2019, including 111 deaths so far this year.” While some of these workers may be working away from the World Cup locations, the treatment of the workers, and unwillingness to act by FIFA is sickening nonetheless.
As sports fans, and most likely viewers of the World Cup, we should all monitor this situation and whether or not FIFA will finally take a stand against the horrific labor standards of Qatar’s projects. For now, all we can do is continue to have people like Zac Rayson speak out against the competition, and hope that the cries of human rights abuse are more persuasive to FIFA than their pipeline of Qatari oil money.
Look for more on this topic in this semester’s copy of the ILR Sports Business Society Magazine.