Sunday, December 05, 2021

The Qatari disgrace

 As more and more teams are confirming their qualification for next year's World Cup in Qatar, it is truly disturbing to hear that Qatar's small advances in protecting the rights of the workers are not advancing further, but in fact going back. Two weeks ago Amnesty International published a new report on how things are going, and they are indeed looking bleak. Barely a week after the report two Norwegian journalists were detained in Qatar after reporting on the fear and implicit corruption that is behind the organization of the World Cup.

I think it is clear that the Qatari regime appears to have no intention to improve the lot of its migrant workers, and also appears to be willing to go to great lengths to hide anything that could be problematic.

Obviously the World Cup will be held in Qatar. FIFA will not do that, and I am not going to bother reflecting on the despicable reasons for any of FIFA's actions. 

Neither will any government cancel its participation in the World Cup: there will simply not be a sufficient number of countries that will support it, and without this, there will be no meaning to do it. Indeed, the attention of the World Cup is only of great interest to most governments, as it only takes attention away from them at a time of crises all around the world.

The World Cup is the opium of the people.

So what can we do about it? How can we help our brothers and sisters, migrant workers, suffering and being oppressed in Qatar? (a country that also discriminates against women and LGBTI people). I think the recent European championship gave some small indications that I hope fans and teams participating in Qatar will take up: send a strong message; carry t-shirts calling for rights; carry pictures of the many workers who have died; send messages in support of LGBTI people and the family's of migrant workers who have lost their loved ones; wave the flags of Nepal and Bangladesh (where most migrant workers come from) during the matches; I hope players from all teams will take a knee as they have beautifully done against racism, but will do it for Human Rights in Qatar; I hope players will be vocal, as they have been doing a lot recently, and denounce the Qatari treatment of the weakest people who have built the stadiums where they can play, where only global millionaires will be able to get tickets to watch them.

Qatar doesn't deserve the World Cup. FIFA doesn't own the World Cup. The World Cup belongs to the people, to the fans and the players (who are fans too), and they will make the World Cup great, but hopefully denounce the greed of the people who claim to own the World Cup.

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