Dark clouds gloom behind the ongoing 2022 Qatar World Cup


Media: Aidan Ma ’23

Illustration by Aidan Ma ’23

The 2022 Qatar World Cup is in full swing. Aside from the beautiful games, the ugly truth behind FIFA’s decision of choosing Qatar as the host country should not be overlooked.

Investigative journalist and FIFA corruption whistle-blower Heidi Blake said that “FIFA conducted its own objective analysis and found that Qatar was an unsuitable place to host the World Cup.” Back in 2015, 14 executive members of FIFA are arrested on suspicion of corruption. The controversy of Qatar World Cup brought attention to the long-time corruption allegations inside FIFA.

Here are some simple facts: 1. The summer temperatures of Qatar would be a hazard to the health of professional soccer players and the fans. 2. To host the FIFA World Cup, Qatar would have to build nine new stadiums, and there wasn’t enough space in Doha so they would have to create a whole new city for lodgings and transportations. 3. Migrant workers would need to work double time in the scorching heat to build these stadiums. It just doesn’t seem plausible for Qatar to host the biggest soccer event in the whole world without labor abuses, and that is exactly what happened.

Migrant workers’ rights have been a massive shadow covering the construction of Qatari stadiums. Qatar’s Kafala system between workers and their employers is a restrictive regime of laws, regulations that ties migrant workers’ legal residency to their employers. To put it simply, workers cannot leave or change jobs without their employers’ consent. Their passports are often taken away by their employers. A guardian article revealed that over 6,500 migrant workers died in Qatar since World Cup was awarded to Qatar.

Dean of the Shirley Quadrivium Center and soccer fanatic Jared Courtney constructed the H-term course FIFA World Cup 2022: Fantasy & Reality in hope to not only let students enjoy the world cup but also think about the implications of FIFA, the social oppression, and the cultural impact of the world cup.

Courtney found Qatar hosting the world cup ridiculous. “It was the most outright flagrant sort of corruption that could have happened within FIFA,” Courtney said. This occasion also fueled him in educating students about the corruption and human abuses behind the world’s biggest soccer event.

For fans around the world, Courtney thought that we should first enjoy the game. At the same time, he called on us to all engage in our communities and create a healthy soccer community that we are all proud of.

Courtney wishes his students to be mindful of the implications that draws us away from the experience that we would like to have in sports games.

Students in Courtney’s world cup class strongly enjoyed the course. Varsity soccer team member Will Reger ’23 said that he never thought there would be so much scandal behind FIFA. “It is nice to learn something while enjoying the world cup. I love watching the game with the class, it is a lot of fun,” Reger said.

Senior researcher at Human Rights Watch and leading advocate on migrant workers’ rights Nicholas McGeehan said in an interview that a lot of coverage of the FIFA scandals and migrant workers abuses “all vanished as soon as the first whistle blew, and everyone became captivated by the football.”

Courtney hopes his students be aware of the abuses. “It’s really important to consider the other side of the sport. There’s always going to be human nature that detracts from sports itself,” he said.