I write this post with a very heavy heart. The recent allegations of corruption and bribery surrounding Qatar 2022 has left a very bitter taste, especially with the 2014 installment so close.
When Qatar won the rights to host the 2022 World Cup back in 2010, I was excited. I even blogged about it . What I was excited about was that they promised when they were done hosting the tournament, the stadia were to be dismantled and the parts distrubuted across the world to developing nations needing them for sports infrastructure.
And besides, who can’t be excited about this:
Slowly, in the aftermath of FIFA’s announcement, reports and concerns trickled in about the ability of the Middle East country to host this tournament.
First came the concerns over the weather conditions. In summer, temperatures in Qatar can soar to well over 50 degrees celsius. It is not acceptable to expect footballers to play such a cardio-intensive sport in these conditions. Also, I am sure fans will be miserable sitting in that sweltering heat( with no drinks to go down also, see below). No problem, Qatar said, they will build stadia with temperature control technology, so the conditions will be bearable (within the stadiums, at least). What about the cost of this technology? I mean, we are talking of billions of dollars. There have even been suggestions of moving the tournament to November/December 2022 (winter). But can you imagine the havoc that would cause? Besides it falling smack bang in the middle of the festive season, the European club season would be in disarray, costing UEFA and the individual leagues millions.
Then came the concerns over alcohol. In Qatar alcohol is only legally allowed in certain bars, hotels and clubs, and there is strict control over the sales, consumers are required to present their passport upon purchase. Most fans are used to enjoying their football with a
Budweiser beer. No problem, Qatar said, we will allow sales of alcohol, within the stadiums. But what about after matches? Fans wanting to celebrate after the games, will they have to whip out their passports for every drink they purchase?
Then came the worry over the LGBT football fans. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, will fans LGBT fans of the game be allowed to travel to Qatar to watch their favourite teams? Qatar is yet to comment on this one.
But the most distressing points? The accusations of bribes and the poor working and living conditions of the migrant workers involved un building the stadiums, new airport etc.
The allegations first came in May 2011, when a whistleblower from within the Qatar camp alleged that certain FIFA executive committee members were paid for votes. The whistleblower then hastily retracted their statements and an inquiry of the allegations was opened (which still has not reached it conclusion!!!), and it was forgotten for 3 years.
Then in May this year, FIFA president Sepp Blatter admitted it was a mistake to host the tournament in Qatar.
He said: “The technical report into Qatar said clearly it was too hot but the executive committee – with a large majority – decided all the same to play it in Qatar.”
My thoughts (and I’m sure yours too) when reading this was why would a group of people, whose job it is to chose the best possible place to host the World Cup (by best, I mean, acceptable conditions, acceptable infrastructure, the ability to carry out upgrades and which country will benefit from hosting it) disregard a technical report that clearly stated that Qatar was not suitable? The answer to my question came this morning with fresh reports emerging of bribery and slush funds that have been used to pay members of the FIFA executive committee to gain votes for the Qatar campaign. Allegations of “millions of emails” found have brought on calls for a rerun of the vote to hold the 2022 installment.
Earlier this year conditions of migrant workers working on Stadium sites was brought to light and sparked global outrage. With more than 1.4 million migrant workers building a “new Qatar” for 2022 and reports that hundreds have already died due to harsh working conditions, some sources estimate at the current rate more than 4000 migrant workers would have died by 2022!
Sepp Blatter and FIFA cannot continue to turn a blind eye to these allegations and more especially the clear violations of human rights.
What do you think about Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup?