With the World Cup now taking place in Qatar, many are surprised that a small Gulf nation with little football history has ended up hosting the sport’s biggest event.
Qatar have never participated in a World Cup before, but on Sunday they became the first host nation to lose their opening match with a 2-0 defeat to Ecuador.
It has been 12 years since the country’s World Cup debut. Qatar’s hosting status has also been the subject of controversy within football circles.
Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup in 2010, and the United States South Korea It was selected ahead of bids from Japan and Australia.
During the bidding process; FIFA’s governing body has faced several hurdles as technical reports have flagged concerns. These include the region’s extreme heat during the summer, when the current World Cup is traditionally held, and the lack of existing infrastructure.
In fact, Reports even went so far as to label Qatar’s bid as “too risky,” but the country won the final vote by 14 votes to the United States’ eight.
At the time, Qatar promised to make the world “proud of the Middle East” by being the first country from the region to host the tournament. FIFA president Sepp Blatter at the time welcomed the prospect of taking football to “new countries”.
“I am a happy president when it comes to football development,” he said.
After twelve years, Blatter is more critical.
Earlier this month, He told the Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger: “Qatar is wrong … the choice is not good.
“The country is too small. Football and the World Cup are too big for that.”
Blatter said FIFA amended the criteria used to select the host nation in 2012 because of concerns about working conditions at tournament-related construction sites in Qatar.
“Since then, social considerations and human rights have been taken into account,” he said.
Qatar, with a population of less than three million people than Connecticut, has invested billions in its soccer infrastructure to prepare for the 2022 tournament.
But there are questions about how Qatar will be able to continue hosting the World Cup.
As recently as March 2020, the US Department of Justice alleged that top officials accepted bribes to select Russia and Qatar as hosts for the 2018 and 2022 games. Russian and Qatari officials said in a statement to CNN that it was “wrong.”
The DOJ has been investigating allegations of corruption in international soccer, including FIFA, for years. To date, there have been more than two dozen convictions, some of which are ongoing.
In a statement from FIFA in April 2020, it said it “supports all investigations into criminal activity involving domestic or international football and will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement officials investigating such matters.”
“FIFA is closely following all developments related to these investigations and ongoing legal proceedings in the United States and elsewhere in the world.”
“It is important to point out that FIFA itself has been named as a defendant in the US criminal proceedings and that senior FIFA officials are in regular contact with the US Department of Justice.”
FIFA has been made the victim of what US prosecutors see as a near-hijacking of soccer’s governing body by corrupt officials.
Qatar’s human rights record ahead of the World Cup has been in the spotlight, particularly when it comes to the welfare of migrant workers.
At the time Qatar was awarded the World Cup, there was little infrastructure in place, and in addition to seven new stadiums ahead of the tournament, the country’s airport, New hotels were built for rail networks and highways.
It relies on Qatar’s migrant workers, who make up 90 percent of the total workforce, according to Amnesty International.
Since 2010, many migrant workers have experienced delayed or unpaid wages; Forced labor Human rights organizations found that each of them faced threats from employers to work long hours in hot weather and difficulty leaving work because of the country’s sponsorship system.
The FIFA president has hit back at Western critics of Qatar.
However, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) said “the health, safety and dignity of all workers employed in our projects remains intact” with “significant improvements” regarding workers’ rights.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino also said he had seen a “great evolution” in Qatar’s labor reforms, noting reforms such as a non-discriminatory minimum wage, the first of its kind in the region.
At the same time, Qatar-backed discrimination against LGBTQ people has also been criticized in the run-up to the World Cup.
Sex between men is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison in the country, and according to a Human Rights Watch report released last month, Qatari security forces have been arbitrarily arresting LGBT people in September and recently documented the persecution of gay people. – Treatment in custody.
In a statement sent to CNN on behalf of the SC, it said it is committed to an “inclusive and non-discriminatory World Cup” and has hosted hundreds of international and regional sporting events since being awarded. 2010 World Cup.
“There were never any problems and every event was delivered safely,” the statement said.
“Welcome everyone to Qatar,” he said. But we are a conservative country, and public displays of affection, regardless of direction, are frowned upon. We ask people to respect their culture.”
The most obvious sign that this World Cup is different from most is the decision to hold it in November and December rather than June and July.
Temperatures are expected to rise above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) later this week, but the hot summer months in Qatar have necessitated the switch.
Other changes to the tournament’s structure came at the last minute.
FIFA announced on Friday that alcohol would not be sold in stadiums, and on Monday warned captains from seven nations that they would receive yellow cards for wearing inclusion and anti-discrimination armbands.
FIFA announced its “non-discrimination” campaign with the designated armband earlier on Monday, adding that “all 32 captains will have the opportunity to wear this armband during the World Cup.”
According to FIFA’s equipment regulations, “the captain of each team for FIFA finals shall wear the captain’s armband provided by FIFA.”
Time will tell what the legacy of this World Cup will be, but the last few days, months, As the years go by, things get complicated and controversial.