America may be back-to-back World War champions, but we did not win the bid for the 2022 World Cup back in 2010. A small country by the name of Qatar beat out an established superpower. Once it was announced that Qatar won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup, there were instantaneous accusations of bribery and cheating. Qatar is tiny, reaches temperatures of 120 degrees in the summer months when the World Cup is usually held and has a trivial history of soccer – their team has never even been to a World Cup. Over the last five years, there have been countless allegations, denials, indictments, rebuttals, so on and so forth, by FIFA officials and Qatari representatives. Sepp Blatter, the former president of FIFA, officially announced his resignation on June 2, at an uncannily convenient time. FIFA is currently under investigation by the FBI and United States prosecutors for money laundering, bribery, racketeering and corruption. Several former FIFA officials have international wanted persons alerts looming over their heads. This whole thing is a pretty big deal, and amidst the scandal and talk of bribes, people are forgetting a huge population that is being cheated in the midst of this whole mess – migrant workers in Qatar.
Qatar is the richest country in the world, per capita, and is notoriously inhumane when it comes to workers’ rights. When Qatar first got the bid for the World Cup, outrage ensued, and much of it was focused on the lack of legal protections for migrant workers in the country. A massive part of Qatar’s bid was a promise to build nine new stadiums for the World Cup, all of which will feature the newest engineering innovations to harvest solar energy from the sweltering heat of summer months. The sketches for the stadiums look stunning, and the arenas would undoubtedly be just as incredible as the country promised. But the ingenuity and beauty of these stadiums is tainted by the amount of sweat, blood and tears that went into their creation.
By sweat, I mean a lot of it. In September of 2013, The Guardian reported that 44 Nepalese workers died during the summer months while working on World Cup infrastructure. A number of these deaths could probably be contributed to the horrific conditions of the laborers, like denial of food and water in temperatures of over 100 degrees. By blood, I mean actual blood. The International Trade Union Confederation estimates that over 4,000 workers will die while building these glorious stadiums for the World Cup. I do not have statistics on the amount of tears over laborer rights in Qatar, but I can imagine that number would be the greatest. It is disgusting that people are actually dying for the sake of snazzy sporting arenas.
Money has been an integral aspect of this FIFA scandal: how much did one individual make from a bribe? How much did Qatar pay to be granted the 2022 World Cup? How many FIFA officials frequently profit from bribes? Bribery and corruption are what have made this scandal into a scandal, but it’s the plight of Qatari migrant workers that makes this a tragedy, and that’s what we should be talking about. Instead of discussing how many FIFA officials were involved in the bribes, consider the amount of people that will actually die because of these bribes. Instead of discussing which laws the officials violated, let’s talk about the lack of laws the country of Qatar has to protect migrant laborers. There are 21st century slaves in Qatar right now, but that is not what is making headlines.
2022 is almost a decade away, and there will undoubtedly be more developments in the FIFA scandal before then. There will also potentially be 4,000 fewer human lives on this planet because of the ignorance and indifference of other countries. The World Cup is one of the most-viewed sporting events in the entire world, but none of it is worth the lives of innocent individuals. If Qatar remains the location for the 2022 World Cup, which at this point it is, remember that more workers died building that field than the number of players who will use it. Not even Cristiano Ronaldo can make that look good.
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