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Sunday, February 5, 2023

Qatar World Cup Controversies

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There is a famous African proverb: “Until the Lion Learns How to Write, Every Story Will Glorify the Hunter.” This proverb goes perfect in line with the FIFA World Cup 2022 happening in Qatar. The English media is trying its best to villainize and even vandalize the biggest sporting event in the world.

What does the West say?

As soon as Qatar announced that it would hold to its values and not allow activities that were not modest, the classical hypocrisy of the Western media showed up. Besides mainstream electronic and print media, social media faced a flood of opinions undermining Eastern culture, values, and traditions.

Some of the tweets that you can see clearly send out a message full of hatred against another civilization. Islamophobia is evident in many social media posts and mainstream media shows.

A layperson may find it challenging to comprehend the West’s response because it comes from a rarely addressed angle. The West has hegemonized the world since the 1970s. It has projected its so-called liberal values across all domains of life, including sports. Football has remained an important sport for Europe and Latin America. Since the dawn of FIFA history, all the world cups have been organized in either Europe or Latin America, excluding two. One that took place in South Africa in 2010 and the other in Russia in 2018.

It is first time in the history that a Muslim Middle Eastern country is hosting the biggest sporting event of the globe. The country has firmly decided not to compromise on its Arab-Islamic values. Now, the West feels a sense of undermining. It is afraid that the world will be exposed to another culture, another set of values, and an alternative history of the world. Those who are from the field of social sciences conceptualize it as a we vs. they debate.

Many countries have objected on the ban of LGBTQ+ during the event. They are parading over Qatar for violating so-called human rights embedded in the liberal values. But on the alternative side, more LGBTQ+ members have died and have faced violence in the last 24 hours in the United States than in the whole history of Qatar. Same goes with the ban on alcohol in the stadium. Ironically, France also does not allow alcohol consumption in its sporting arenas but nobody talks about it since it is a Western country.

Migrant workers in Qatar

But that’s only one side of the story. Qatar is also no angel. Since Qatar was chosen to host the FIFA World Cup, the Guardian has confirmed that over 6,500 migrant labourers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka have died in the nation.

There have been an average of 12 deaths each week involving migrant workers from these five south Asian nations since the night in December 2010 when the streets of Doha were packed with happy crowds celebrating Qatar’s triumph, according to government figures.

Information gathered from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka indicates that 5,927 migrant workers lost their lives between 2011 and 2020. In addition, 824 Pakistani nationals working at the Pakistani embassy in Qatar passed away between 2010 and 2020.

The real death toll is probably far higher than that since many people from other countries, including the Philippines and Kenya, work in Qatar. Deaths that occurred in the later part of the year 2020 are similarly excluded.

In preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar has embarked on an unprecedented building development during the last decade. Dozens of large construction projects, like as a new airport, roads, public transportation systems, hotels, and a new city that will host the World Cup final, have been completed or are now underway in anticipation of the event.

Despite the fact that death records do not classify deaths by occupation or place of work, Nick McGeehan, director of Fair Square Projects, an advocacy group specializing in labor rights in the Gulf, believes that many of the workers who have died were employed on these World Cup infrastructure projects. Many of the migrant workers who have died in Qatar since 2011 were there only because the country was chosen to host the FIFA World Cup.

So, who is right? Western hypocrites or Qatari elite filled with oil wealth and hunger for lavish lifestyle and show off? That is up to you to decide.

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