By Bridie Beamish
I come from a big soccer family. While some fathers taught their kids to throw footballs, mine taught me how to score goals. While some families will spend their Thanksgiving watching football, I will spend this one anticipating the World Cup. Though the tournament is typically an event largely supported and loved by my family, this year things look a little different. as the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) has made it abundantly clear that it cares more about profit and entertainment than morality and human rights.
FIFA selected Qatar, located in the Middle East, for this year’s World Cup, and that selection concerns many. Qatar criminalizes same-sex relationships, underpays and abuses migrant workers, discriminates against women, and hinders people’s freedom. By choosing Qatar, a country known for its lack of human rights, FIFA has prioritized money over human welfare.
The death of more than 6,500 migrant laborers during the construction of the World Cup’s 200 billion-dollar infrastructure exemplifies the nation’s abuse and disregard for marginalized groups. It is unfathomable how FIFA allowed the profit and support of hosting the World Cup to go to a country that let thousands die while creating the event’s infrastructure. As the Guardian estimated that Qatar spent more than 200 million dollars on its bid to host the sporting event, FIFA’s desire for money proves to be more significant than their morals.
Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s secretary general, declared that he actually prefers to work with countries that have a lack of democracy: “I will say something which is crazy, but less democracy is sometimes better for organizing a World Cup…when you have a very strong head of state who can decide…that is easier for us organizers.” Valcke’s assertion is a prime example of FIFA’s greed, as the company puts comfort and ease above what is morally right.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino also dared to implore the 32 nations participating in this year’s match to “focus on the football” and “not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists.” How can he so easily urge society to acquiesce to human rights abuse? As a straight and wealthy man, Infantino has no right to ask the public simply to turn a blind eye to Qatar’s abuse that oppresses minorities’ natural rights. As someone unaffected by the nation’s views, Infantino and his organization demonstrate overwhelming privilege and greed, allowing them to work so calmly with a government that mistreats numerous marginalized communities.
Further corroboration of Qatar’s corruption comes from the fact that the nation is now paying soccer fans to attend the World Cup, share positive messages about Qatar on social media, and respond to posts criticizing the country. It is abominable that Qatar uses bribery and entertainment to cover up its human rights record and sweep its problematic laws under the rug.
It is vital that fans show their disapproval of Qatar’s government and FIFA. Wearing new jerseys to honor the migrant workers who died during the tournament’s construction, Denmark highlights how essential it is to pay respect to marginalized groups and ensure entertainment does not overshadow the maltreatment of these groups. While watching the World Cup this year, don’t be ignorant – stay aware of the fact that this year’s event is about so much more than soccer.
(Sources: ESPN, NY Times, The Guardian)
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