Fans cheer with enthusiasm and cry out for justice at the World Cup


Zara Black '23

Cheers echo around the crowded stadiums in Qatar while fans around the world call for awareness amidst World Cup controversy.

Cheers fill the eight soccer stadiums of Qatar as worldwide fans support their home countries and players in the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) World Cup.  However, amid the enthusiasm come cries for awareness and justice for the human rights issues and hosting briberies that Qatar has swept beneath its advertising.  The strict national regulations, including criminalizing homosexuality, have forced many soccer players to silence their personal beliefs in order to step onto the field.  Additionally, reporters have made allegations against Qatar regarding a tainted process of selection for the 2022 World Cup hosting location.  These allegations paired with instances of human rights atrocities occurred through the country’s preparation for the soccer activities this November and December.  All of these issues show that Qatar was not fit to host the World Cup, as it inhibits the progress soccer has accomplished in the past years and fails to represent the rights of fans around the world.

The FIFA World Cup dates back to 1930, when fans first observed the games in Uruguay.  The games take place every four years, with 32 national teams competing to be soccer’s world champion.  The World Cup originated with hopes of bringing the world together with the common passion for soccer, according to  The games commenced November 20 and will follow a tight schedule ending with a final December 18, according to  The 2022 World Cup brings change as it takes place in the fall and winter seasons rather than its normal summer season.  This is due to the extreme temperatures that pose a risk for the players during Qatar’s summers.  Each World Cup occurs in a different country, with fans from all over the world traveling to the location to celebrate their love for the sport and take part in the cultural exchange it provides.  

Fans gather in Qatar from all around the world to share their love for soccer and support their teams.  Courtesy of Ms. Natacha Pisarenko

The process of selecting the host country for competition consists of a 22-member FIFA Executive Committee that hears the bids and proposals of different countries.  Each member of the committee votes until a country’s bid receives a majority of 12 or more votes.  The 2022 World Cup bidding process took place in Zürich, Switzerland December 2010.  The voting process went through many rounds until Qatar beat the United States (US) 14 votes to eight votes, according to  

FIFA has used this process in previous years for the World Cup host decision.  The selection process may seem foolproof, but throughout the years journalists uncovered the use of bribery, false intention, and wrongful representation.  Fifteen of the 22 members of the FIFA Executive Committee that worked on the 2022 host decision either suffered a ban or suspension from FIFA, faced investigation from domestic law enforcement agencies, pleaded guilty to corruption, or submitted to a number of other crimes.  These members were not linked directly to Qatar’s victory as host for the 2022 World Cup.  However, this does display the corruption buried beneath the surface of the organization and its process.

The 2010 president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, announces Qatar as the host of the 2022 World Cup.  Courtesy of Mr. Walter Bieri

Another notable part of the scandal was the lack of transparency surrounding the high-risk label Qatar received after FIFA Executive Committee rendered its decision, according to  With its high summer temperatures, sometimes reaching over 104 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months, small dimensions, underdeveloped transportation, residency, stadium facilities, and infrastructure, Qatar was not an ideal pick.

However, the bid referred to Qatar as a chance to bring soccer and the World Cup into a new region, the Middle East.  Although this argument seems logical, it lacks the depth of research needed to understand whether Qatar is fit to host the World Cup in 2022.  Many changes, including the season in which the event would take place, would have to occur in order to change the country’s dream into a reality.

Outrage also comes from FIFA’s ban stating that captains from nations involved in the OneLove campaign are not allowed to wear armbands that represent a message of support, as it could result in yellow cards on the pitch.  The OneLove campaign arose in the Netherlands with the goal of supporting inclusion and discouraging discrimination.  They believe in focusing on people’s joint love for soccer rather than the different qualities and characteristics that separate each supporter, according to CNN.  Controversy stirs over this issue as some believe respecting the local culture is more important.  They further argue that the game of soccer does not need to be entwined with political, social, ethical, and other disagreements many fans and athletes have.  Mr. Hugo Lloris, captain of France’s national team, stated that he would respect the culture of the nation he was playing in, whereas other captains, including Mr. Virgil van Dijk, captain of Netherlands’ national team, relayed their disappointment in the regulations, according to CNN.

Captain Harry Kane leads the English National Team without the ability to wear the OneLove armband that calls awareness to diversity.  Courtesy of Mr. Nick Potts

In an interview with CNN, Dr. Naser Mohamed, the first openly gay Qatari activist to speak against the prominent human rights issues in the country, discussed the abuse he suffered and why he could not stay silent on injustices during the World Cup.  Dr. Mohamed also responded to the varying opinions on whether grouping Qatar’s regulations, including their laws against homosexuality and human rights issues, with soccer is correct and fair. 

“What I want to tell them is […] I had my challenges where I grew up, and I have a lot of economic, and social, and political challenges to navigate, to be where I am today,” Dr. Mohamed said.  “And that path I took is a challenge.  And I wish that we can meet this message with empathy.  They just say let’s play football, and they are literally playing football over our graves in Qatar,” according to CNN. 

Stories also exposed the horrid conditions workers faced when constructing the infrastructure necessary for the World Cup.  With Qatar’s population of around 3 million people and 90 percent of that population representing the nation’s labor force, working and living conditions rapidly decreased.  In 2010, when FIFA chose Qatar as the host of the 2022 World Cup, the country lacked the necessary infrastructure to support the number of people and teams that would crowd the small country.  Evidently, with this issue came the need for an increase in stadiums, residency spaces, and highways, among other projects. 

The released report containing Qatar’s bid and their outlined plan to host included data supporting their lack of land and infrastructure, but instead chose to highlight the positives of choosing the country, including the idea of bringing the tournament to a new continent.  By overlooking the obvious signs that labeled the country a high risk location for hosting, and instead favoring the positive outcomes in the media and presentation, it truly failed to notice the pain and immense change the country and its people would have to go through. 

Qatar’s hot temperatures leave laborers working in extreme conditions as they rush to construct the necessary infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.  Courtesy of Mr. Ed Kashi VII

An investigation that The Guardian conducted reported 6,500 deaths of migrant workers in Qatar since 2010 from workplace accidents, car crashes, suicides, and deaths related to high temperatures, according to  In an interview executed with National Public Radio (NPR) and reporter Mr. Pete Pattison who worked on the investigation that The Guardian produced, Mr. Pattison recalls how the deaths of these migrant workers relate to the World Cup.

“Some of them include workers who collapsed on the stadium construction site and died after they were taken off it.  Others died in road traffic accidents on their way to work in a company bus.  And many others died suddenly in an unexplained way in their labor camps,” said Mr. Pattison, according to

These atrocities poorly reflect FIFA’s message and soccer’s representation.  How can the world justify these actions?  Is it working towards the common goal of bringing the world together through a passion for soccer when people have to die to create this fantasy?  By permitting these practices and allowing workers to continue on these projects until their deaths, the World Cup in Qatar and the countless associations connected to the World Cup neither encourage nor discourage the compromising of human rights for a common goal.  Instead, FIFA, and those who watch blindly, justify the dehumanization of countless people to build a reputation that is layered upon the deaths of innocent people.  Mrs. Miky Worden, the director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, comments on this atrocity and how she believes it will play out in the World Cup.

“We believe that players don’t want to play in stadiums that workers died to build.  We believe that fans don’t want to stay in hotels or use metros that workers died to build,” Mrs. Worden said, according to

How can Qatar, a country that does not represent what its players and fans stand for and rather prohibits the representation of their beliefs and identities, host the World Cup?  This further contributes to the point that by allowing Qatar to host the tournament, it not only pushes back the progress the sport has made, but also deems the human rights atrocities committed in Qatar acceptable.  The arguments of reporters, players, and spectators surrounding the importance of separating the game from the culture and rules of a country are understandable, but by hosting a major worldwide tournament that brings insurmountable advertising, fans, and media to a country like Qatar, it puts forth a message of division in a sport that shares a common goal of unity around the world. 

Featured Image by Zara Black ’23