How Qatar is using the football World Cup to sports-wash its dirty laundry

The countdown clock for the FIFA Qatar World Cup 2022 on the Corniche in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

To no one’s surprise, football is the biggest and the most popular sport in the world. According to FIFA; the organizing body of the World Cup, an astonishing 265 million people play the sport around the globe amongst which 3.5 billion people consider themselves to be fans who wait patiently every four years for the tournament of dreams to arrive — THE FIFA WORLD CUP!! Making it the biggest sporting event on the planet.

But nothing stays sacred. Greed corrupts everyone and so it did to the higher-ups of FIFA when they accepted Qatar’s bid to host the World Cup of 2022 back in 2010, making Qatar the first Nation to do so in the Middle-east. Allowing Qatar to use the sport of the people to place a primer of whiteness all over its not-so-white reputation of abusing human rights.

A method uncannily called ‘Sports-washing.’

What is Sports-washing?

When an individual, group, corporation, or more prominently a Nation-state attempt to white-wash, cleanse, or project a more positive image of itself than is accurate, showing an alternative version of events than the reality, hiding behind the glitz and glamour of a people-worshipped sport — they are known to be Sports-washing their tarnished repute.

They are aware that sport is powerful, so they use it for devious causes. In other words, authoritarian governments are aware of the fact that investing money in sports can highlight their good and mask their wrongdoing and they use it to their full advantage. The Oil-Rich Gulf Nation of ‘Qatar’ perhaps seems to be doing the same with the eagerly awaited FIFA WORLD CUP 2022!

Attempting to rebrand themselves by splashing millions on first buying PSG (Paris Saint-Germain F.C.) followed by making record-breaking signings which led to Ligue 1 becoming a one-team league since 2011 and now hosting the World Cup — Seem like desperate attempts to force the world to look the other way.

Amnesty international — Qatar Workers (Source:Amnesty.org)

What is wrong with that you ask? Let’s take the cover off …

Qatar has been accused of numerous human rights violations for decades together, some of which are known to be downright barbaric. It is a high-income, rapidly growing economy, therefore, requiring a huge labor force. To fulfill that, Qatar practices the unethical crimes of human trafficking and forced migration. On the face of it, some of the migrations look voluntary. But soon these tens of thousands of workers discover themselves in Indentured servitude, with filthy staying conditions, no sewage, no safety gear while working massive construction sites, twelve-hour shifts, and borderline slavery.

False promises like good wages are made to them to migrate only for their passports to be stripped away upon arrival and the situation is the polar opposite of what they were made to believe. Workers avoid talking and sharing their identities with journalists reporting this issue because doing so would lead them to be sacked and left stranded with no help or wages in a foreign land. If a worker tries to quit, his current contract is terminated leading him to not receive the majority of the money he has worked for thus far, hence making him broke to even buy a ticket back home. Essentially creating an inescapable jail.

The number of migrant workers has risen manyfold recently — of course, the spanking-new World-class World cup stadiums needed to be built. Short deadline, worse conditions. The majority of these workers are from Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other African countries. Qatar thinks them to be the grease they need to chug and discard for the gears of progress to roll.

According to the Guardian, an estimated minimum of 6500 workers would have died to only set up the tournament. People are being worked to death. On average a worker dies every day. The Qatari government denies any of these facts to be true and fails to even acknowledge them properly.

Protests against Human Rights Violations (Source: DW.com)

Football teams of Norway, Netherlands and Germany stood up for the cause by donning the motives jerseys in the qualifiers. But the fact remains, that they’d be playing too. The whole #BoycottQatar movement/campaign has failed by far to bring any concrete reforms and now eventually all the countries are going to partake in the tournament by having their citizens and teams visit Qatar to watch and play the games. Hypocritical much?

The Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca once said…”Who does not prevent the crime, supports it.” As a society, as a world when we accept all that happens around us — right or wrong, fair or unfair, just or unjust — that is when we let the perpetrators of crime believe they can get away with anything.

Wilful ignorance of accusations of corruption and money laundering, the moving about of conventional dates of the tournament from May or June to a late November, the reduction in the time frame to a mere 28 days — ‘adjustments’ to somehow keep Qatar always the winner at the FIFA table seem funny at first but murkier when you dig.

As countries like India and Nepal whose natives were among the key victims of the sports-washing attempts of the great Gulf Nation, keep staunchly quiet about the mistreatment of their own citizens, it brings us to a crooked conclusion — All human life is not worth the same. There is always something that has a higher value than human life itself.

And in this case — that ‘something’ is the unrestrained flow of money that lures innocent needy migrants to come to powerful Nations like these in search of sustenance and livelihoods, the unbridled sense of power that brings Federal associations, international bodies of justice and entire Nations to their knees and the shameless parade of luxury that spits gold dust even in the eyes of the most straight-arrowed of them all.

But yes, Expect Amazing everyone — 6500 people died to make it so for you. Enjoy!

You are reading a Dais Editorial 2022 ©

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