The FIFA World Cup 2022 kicked off in November and has seen numerous ups and downs. However, the competition has not been without controversy, owing primarily to the venue selection.
Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to hold the mega-event, but it has been dogged by controversy since its application to host one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events was granted in 2010. Many officials claimed that the nominating procedure was corrupt during the tournament’s bidding phase. Many people also claimed that more countries were better prepared to host the World Cup.
The US Department of Justice indicted nine FIFA officials in 2015 for suspected racketeering and money laundering in the sale of 2022 World Cup television rights. Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s long-serving president, resigned in the aftermath of the incident. However, that was not the end of the problems plaguing this World Cup.
As soon as work on athletic infrastructure and stadiums began, complaints surfaced that Qatar was exploiting migrant labourers from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Human rights violations against construction workers were revealed in reports. Furthermore, it was claimed that labour costs were reduced by exploitative methods such as wage theft, hazardous working conditions, and physical abuse. According to the Guardian, approximately 6,500 labourers have perished since Qatar was awarded the event.
Qatar, an Islamic country, has a dismal record on LGBTQ+ rights – something which queer rights activists outraged on. In Novemeber 2022, India also raised its concerns when Islamist preacher from Mumbai, Zakir Naik, was invited to the World Cup. Moreover, Environmentalists have maintained FIFA manipulates data to reduce its carbon footprint. FIFA has always stated that it supports Qatar and its preparations for the World Cup, although criticism of its handling of the situation has persisted.
As the tournament approached, several celebrities began to discuss cancelling the World Cup in Qatar. Singer Dua Lipa stated in November 2022 that she will not sing at the opening ceremony until Qatar changes its human rights record. Shakira, a fan favourite at World Cup ceremonies, has discreetly abandoned her intentions to perform at the tournament. Rod Stewart, a rock music legend, then joined the bandwagon to boycott the FIFA World Cup 2022.
At the same time, #BoycottFIFAWorldCup trended on Twitter and other social media platforms.
As the event has progressed, some of the controversies have taken a back seat. But overall, these controversies got as much attention as the action on the football ground.