How Qatar ended up hosting the World Cup



Cnn

With the World Cup underway in Qatar, many are wondering how this moment came about: that a small Gulf nation with little footballing history ended up hosting the biggest event the sport has to offer.

Qatar had never previously appeared at a World Cup tournament – ​​let alone staged one – and became the first host nation to lose their opening match of the tournament with a 2-0 defeat by Ecuador on Sunday .

The country’s World Cup debut spanned 12 years, a period in which Qatar’s host country status sparked controversy within the football community and beyond.

When Qatar were named hosts of the 2022 World Cup in 2010, they were selected ahead of bids from the United States, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

During the bidding process, he faced several hurdles as football’s governing body FIFA signaled concerns in technical reports. Among them, the lack of existing infrastructure and the intense heat of the region in the summer, when the World Cup tournaments are traditionally held.

Indeed, reports even went so far as to label Qatar’s bid as “high risk,” but the country still triumphed by 14 votes to the United States’ eight in the last round of the ballot.

At the time, Qatar vowed to make the world “proud of the Middle East” as the first country in the region to host the tournament, while then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter welcomed the prospect of football’s pinnacle event going into “new lands”.

“I am a happy president when we talk about the development of football,” he said.

Twelve years later, Blatter is more critical.

Earlier this month, he told Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger: ‘Qatar is a mistake…the choice was wrong.

“It is too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that.”

Blatter said FIFA changed the criteria it used to select host countries in 2012 in light of concerns over working conditions at tournament-related construction sites in Qatar.

“Since then, social considerations and human rights have been taken into account,” he said.

With a population of three million, smaller than Connecticut’s, Qatar has invested billions in its soccer infrastructure in preparation for the 2022 tournament.

But questions about how Qatar gained the right to stage the World Cup continue.

As recently as March 2020, the US Justice Department said bribes were accepted by senior officials as part of the voting process to elect Russia and Qatar as tournament hosts for the 2018 and 2022 events – Russian officials denied claims and Qatari officials called them “false” in a statement to CNN.

The DOJ has been investigating allegations of corruption in international football, including FIFA, for years. To date, there have been more than two dozen convictions and some cases are ongoing.

A FIFA statement in April 2020 said it “supports all investigations into alleged criminal wrongdoing involving domestic or international football competitions and will continue to fully cooperate with law enforcement agencies investigating such matters.

FIFA is closely following these investigations and all related developments in ongoing legal processes in the United States and other parts of the world.

“Importantly, FIFA itself has been granted victim status in US criminal proceedings and senior FIFA officials are in regular contact with the US Department of Justice.”

FIFA was granted victim status by US prosecutors as they viewed soccer’s world governing body as having nearly been hijacked by a number of corrupt individuals.

Qatar’s human rights situation has also been in the spotlight ahead of the World Cup, particularly regarding the welfare of migrant workers.

Given the minimal infrastructure Qatar had at the time hosting rights to the World Cup were awarded, seven new stadiums were built ahead of the tournament, as well as new hotels and expansions to the airport, rail networks and highways of the country.

This has relied on Qatari migrant workers, who make up 90% of the total workforce, according to Amnesty International.

Since 2010, many migrant workers have faced delayed or unpaid wages, forced labour, working long hours in hot weather, employer intimidation and being unable to leave work due to the country’s sponsorship system, respectively, they found. human rights organizations.

The FIFA president launches an explosive diatribe against Western critics of Qatar

However, Qatar’s Supreme Committee on Surrender and Inheritance (SC) said the health, safety and dignity of “all workers employed in our projects remained stable”, with “significant improvements” being made in rights of the workers.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino also told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies that he saw “a big evolution” in Qatar’s labor reforms, and the International Labor Organization noted reforms such as a non-discriminatory minimum wage that Qatar is the first in the region to adopt.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s state-backed discrimination against LGBTQ people has also been criticized in the years leading up to the World Cup.

Sex between men is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison in the country, and a Human Rights Watch report released last month documented cases as late as September in which Qatari security forces arbitrarily arrested LGBT and subjected them to “mistreatment” – treatment in prison”.

A statement sent to CNN on behalf of the SC said it was committed to an “inclusive and non-discriminatory” World Cup, underscoring the fact that the country, it said, had hosted hundreds of international and regional sporting events since it was awarded the World Cup in 2010.

“There was never a problem and every event was delivered safely,” the statement read.

“Everyone is welcome in Qatar, but we are a conservative country and any public displays of affection, regardless of orientation, are frowned upon. We simply ask people to respect our culture.”

Perhaps the clearest sign that this World Cup is different from most was the decision to stage it in November and December, rather than June and July as is the norm.

The sweltering heat during the summer months in Qatar has made the switch necessary, although temperatures are still expected to exceed 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) by this week.

Other changes to the organization of the tournament were instead more than the last minute.

On Friday, FIFA announced that no alcohol would be sold in stadiums, and then on Monday, the captains of seven countries were warned they would receive yellow cards if they wore armbands that promoted inclusion and opposed discrimination.

FIFA announced on Monday that it had preempted its ‘No Discrimination’ campaign – which also has a designated armband – adding that “all 32 captains will have the opportunity to wear this armband” during the World Cup.

The FIFA equipment regulations state that “for the final FIFA competitions, the captain of each team must wear the captain’s armband provided by FIFA”.

Time will tell what the legacy of this World Cup will be, but if the last few days, months and years have passed, it is likely to be complicated and controversial.

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