In December 2010, Qatar shocked the entire world when it was awarded the opportunity to host the FIFA World Cup 2022, beating the likes of Australia, South Korea, Japan and the United States. At that time, Qatar’s achievement was considered as a stunning victory and symbolized the transformation of a small micro State into a global icon, considering the fact that this would be the first time in the history of the planet that the World Cup would be played in West Asia.
However, the steam from the initial win seems to have fizzled out. And Qatar’s dreams of hosting the World Cup in 2022 might just not materialize after all, considering the wide spread criticism the state is attracting from all quarters.
Construction of stadiums to host the World Cup tournament is underway in Qatar that has been accused of overworking its labors, most of whom happen to be expatriates from India. According to reports from the Western media, over 460 Indians have so far died in the country in past two years. Reports suggested that modern slavery and forced labor was common in all these deaths.
The Indian Embassy in Doha refuted these claims by stating that most of the deaths occurred due to natural causes, with only 13 out of 237 deaths in 2012 and 14 out of 241 deaths in 2013 occurring at construction sites. As pointed out by the Qatari Human Rights Commission, the country’s mortality rate happens to be the lowest in the world with 1.54 deaths per thousand.
The figure is lower for Indians with .482 deaths per thousands. At least two sites have opened up against Qatar, seeking support for petitions that read “Boycott World Cup 2022” and “Stop Slave Labor for 2022 World Cup”.
Another issue that has cropped up is whether the country would be a good place for football in the summer. Most FIFA World Cup tournaments take place between June-July, which happens to be the hottest months in the region. If Qatar seeks to change the timing to winter, it would disrupt future World Cup schedules and put the entire planning system into array.
Opponents of Qatar are busy trying to shift the venue to their respective countries. If the change in timing is not accepted, the vote would be reviewed and alternative venues in the US or Australia would be considered. These opponents are also pressurizing FIFA into considering the allegations made by the workers unions. Several organizations have asked FIFA to reconsider the decision to hold the World Cup in Qatar, asserting that the moral integrity and credibility of World football are at stake.
FIFA’s decision to hold the World Cup 2022 in Qatar has been met with both praise and criticism. While many laud that it is time for the rest of the world to take notice of the West Asia and its interest in football, which, till now, has remained a sport dominated by countries like the US, the UK and Australia. Some people have openly criticized the country’s ways of overworking its labor force in order to finish construction of stadiums in time for the tournament. Opponents of Qatar have taken this a chance to shift the venue to their respective countries, stating that holding the tournament in the country would affect the sport’s moral integrity greatly. One only has to wait and see as to what transpires in the coming months and how Qatar would manage to hold onto its dream of placing the West Asia in the spotlight.