FIFA World Cup Host Sparks Global Debate

Bobbi Evers, contributor

While soccer fans around the world await the most anticipated tournament of the year, let’s take a moment to look over the FIFA World Cup’s 2022 host: Doha, Qatar. Citizens of Qatar are excited to welcome an anticipated one million attendees in the duration of the World Cup. Qatar has built an airport, over 100 hotels, new highways and seven stadiums in preparation for the competition. The excitement has fans and participants alike buzzing with anticipation, but some are taking a more critical look at this year’s host. 

Serious concerns have been raised in the last twelve years of construction since FIFA named Qatar as the 2022 host. Many of these concerns relate to the ethics of the treatment of migrant workers during the completion of the infrastructure. There have also been questions raised about the Qatari government’s treatment of women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.  Qatar officials have contradicted these claims by stating that Qatar is welcoming and hospitable, stating that the claims are “unjust.” There have also been allegations of bribery by Qatar to influence FIFA to accept their bid. Members of FIFA, including FIFA Executive Committee member Theo Zwanziger, have since come forward claiming that the choice of Qatar was a mistake. 

It is common in the world of athletics to have a host be looked at through a microscope, similarly done during the lead up to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in which similar issues regarding the ethics of building infrastructure and the treatment of minority and disadvantaged groups arose. Unfortunately this lens is only looked through once a country has already been chosen to host such events, so the world can only critique rather than prevent. 

Not only have issues regarding ethics arisen upon the selection of Qatar, but fans of soccer and those within soccer leagues around the world have called into question the rationality of choosing a country with a limited history of soccer to host. The Qatar Football Association was recognized by FIFA officially in 1963 whereas many other nations have been recognized by FIFA since before 1900.

The kickoff game of the World Cup between Qatar and Ecuador took place on Sunday, Nov. 20. It was the first of 64 games until the final, which is to be played on Sunday, Dec. 18. You can tune in at 1 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 21 to watch the USA take on Wales in their World Cup opener.