Despite the fact that it’s only a few weeks away, the 2022 FIFA World Cup has already sparked controversy. There’s a lot of hype surrounding the tournament, but there’s also a lot of controversy surrounding the host nation. The host nation, Qatar, has been in the media for all the wrong reasons. Its government has engaged in bad behavior. Its officials have tried to intimidate journalists who ask questions. It’s also been awash in reports of corruption and criminal activity.
It’s no secret that Qatar has been under scrutiny for its treatment of its citizens, especially migrant workers. Many of these workers were brought in to build infrastructure for the World Cup. While Qatar boasts an impressively modern infrastructure, many of the new facilities are being built by workers in countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, and India. Many of the workers were required to work under forced labor and endured temperatures in the mid-thirties. Many workers died during the course of the construction.
One of the biggest problems was that Qatar’s government acted in an arbitrary and repressive manner. The migrant workers who built the stadiums for the tournament were forced to live in rooms that were a bed bug’s nightmare. They were also forced to pay thousands of dollars in recruitment fees. Some even died from the sweltering temperatures. Some foreign workers were even trapped in the kafala system, which is a modern day form of slavery.
The true cost of putting on the World Cup was a staggering $300 billion. This included construction of nine soccer stadiums, 100 new hotels, and a new public transportation system. In addition, Qatar needed to expand its capital city of Doha. It was also in need of a new airport. However, the real story is not the stadiums.
In fact, Qatar did not even have the facilities to host the World Cup in the first place. It was only after a scandal broke that the country was awarded the coveted prize. The country was also accused of bribing FIFA officials to win the big one. This was also a major red flag. It took nearly a decade to build the stadiums. Qatar also has a slew of other problems to contend with.
In the meanwhile, the World Cup has been marred by reports of corruption, criminal activity, and poor working conditions. However, the country has managed to make some headlines in the last couple of months by hiring former England soccer star David Beckham as an ambassador. Beckham was paid a whopping PS150 million to promote Qatar. The deal also entitles the footballer to make videos for the nation. In the meantime, migrant workers continue to be exploited and forced to live in substandard conditions.
The true cost of putting on a tournament of this scale is far too much to ignore, and the bribery that led to this is a good place to start. The best way to end this controversy is to hold Qatar’s officials accountable and stop using human trafficking to build stadiums.