Will Murphy ’23
Athletes from 32 different countries around the world are set to participate in the 22nd FIFA World Cup next month. This year’s host country is Qatar, and the tournament will be held from Nov. 20 through Dec. 18. One unusual aspect of this year’s event is the dates in which it will take place. The World Cup is customarily held in the summer, but has been switched to the winter because of the dangerously high heat of Qatar’s summers. There are eight different venues across five different hosting cities. The process in which Qatar was selected to be the host nation has drawn some questions from critics in the media. This is after allegations of corruption within the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). In the bidding process, Qatar was selected over four additional potential hosts: the United States, South Korea, Japan, and Australia. An internal investigation was launched by FIFA in 2011, but it was ultimately concluded that Qatar was to be cleared of any wrongdoing. Critics of FIFA and its method for selecting the host country have not been shy about their opinion that the event should not be held in Qatar because of these allegations. However, it is important to consider some other factors in favor of the event remaining in Qatar. FIFA is always looking to expand its audience, and the placement of this event in an Arab country for the first time in its history is an important step in that direction. Additionally, the event has not been held in Asia since 2002, when the event was held in two different countries, both Japan and South Korea. The World Cup being spread out to as many nations as possible is great for the game of soccer because it aids in expanding its international audience. Looking at it from another perspective, though, it is impractical to relocate an event requiring the magnitude of preparation that the World Cup does. Planning for the event began immediately after Qatar became aware they had been chosen as the host nation, and it would hardly be fair to take the event away from the nation years after the fact. In addition to this fact, the economic effect on local businesses and the country as a whole is life-changing for countless citizens within the nation. The FIFA World Cup is going to take place in Qatar whether critics agree or not, and it’s best at this point to look at it through a positive lens.
Joseph Quirk ’23
There are plenty of reasons why the biggest stage for the “world’s game” should not be played in Qatar. But three big ones stand out: strict laws put tourists at risk, the workers building the World Cup infrastructure have endured awful conditions, and the temperature is unbearably hot.
Let’s start with the last and arguably least important of the three reasons. The World Cup has traditionally been played every four years in the summer. It is a time of celebration and festivity worldwide and can be enjoyed by all the citizens of the world when many (not all) have off from work and school. However, this year the World Cup must be played during the winter due to the unbearably hot climate of Qatar in the summer. While a winter World Cup could be fun, many will not be able to fully enjoy it due to prior obligations. Combine that with competing sporting events (NBA, NFL) and the holidays and you get a World Cup with less luster.
The next reason is humanitarian. The stadiums and infrastructure being built by Qatar for the World Cup were done so in inhumane ways. The building projects have resulted in thousands of deaths to workers who barely get paid (if at all) and are severely mistreated. Some of this mistreatment includes the denial of water, despite the workers completing the infrastructure in the desert. The living conditions for these workers were also filthy, crammed, and led to the spread of illness. The “quasi-slavery” used to build the very stadiums that the country and FIFA will profit from should be enough to suggest that Qatar should not host the World Cup. But if you can look past all of this and still want to go and visit Qatar for the World Cup, you must be wary of the laws.
Qatar has very strict laws that could put unsuspecting tourists in a lot of trouble. Outside of the dress code restrictions, public displays of affection and sexual acts can find tourists in a tricky situation. If you are a foreigner thinking you can get some beers for the matches, you are sadly mistaken. The laws will make people’s experience miserable, even if they don’t end up in custody.
These three factors combined will hurt the sport. The spectators that travel to watch and support their country will likely not be able to enjoy the games or experience as much because of the strict nature of Qatar’s laws. Fans that otherwise would have watched the whole World Cup may now be deterred by other obligations or other sports. It will also be hard to appreciate all the new stadiums that the matches will be played in knowing what went into them. All-in-all, playing the World Cup in Qatar will hurt the game.