In 2022, Qatar will become the first Arab nation to host the FIFA World Cup, albeit it under widespread corruption allegations. After hosting a successful Asian Games in 2006, FIFA believe that the Arabic regions deserve the opportunity to host such a prestigious event. As the World’s richest country prepare themselves for a world cup so steeped in controversy, we look at the ethical implications of hosting a global event under such media scrutiny.
Why should Qatar host the world cup?
As previously mentioned, Qatar will become the first country in the Middle East to host the FIFA World Cup. Hosting such a prestigious tournament would provide a huge contribution to increasing tourism to both Qatar and its neighbouring countries. Spectators from around the world will come to be part of this huge event and visit a country they most likely never thought of visiting before. Furthermore, the FIFA World Cup is a hugely televised event watched by over 3 billion viewers, thus providing an international platform for Qatar to showcase their country.
With the publicity that Qatar will get during the World Cup, Qatar’s aim to become the ‘next Dubai’ will become more attainable. The majority of the perimeter of Qatar is surrounded by the Arabian Gulf, therefore providing a great destination for sun and beach getaways, which can be publicised during the World Cup. As well as this, the stunning, modern Qatari architecture is an attraction in itself – and a growing one at that!
With plans to become the ‘next Dubai’ in terms of tourism, Qatar will have to accelerate the development of the country – using its small size as an asset by efficiently linking cities together. With stadiums being the central hub to many redevelopment projects in Qatar, including one situated in the centre of a city that hasn’t been built yet, the growth of Qatar is an exciting expansion, especially from an engineer’s perspective.
However, such development comes with huge expenses. With Qatar needing to build many stadiums and hotels to accommodate the tournament, a lot of money must be invested into the 2022 FIFA World Cup. As mentioned, Qatar has been named to be the richest country in the world. With this wealth, Qatar are willing to invest a lot of money to create some remarkable architecture which perhaps the other world cup 2022 candidates would not be able to fund. By investing so much money into innovative architectural designs, the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup could be the next landmarks for Qatar that could go down in engineering history, similar to the Sydney Opera House in Australia.
With 3 current stadiums to be expanded and 9 new stadiums to be built, a vast amount of construction work is to take place in Qatar in the coming years. This means that around 1.5 million jobs will be created, most of which are in construction, engineering and machinery operation. As Qatar has a population of only 2.7million, many of the workers are Indian and Nepalese migrants, strengthening links with nearby countries.
But why the controversy?
Recently, the corruption scandal involving FIFA and its president Sepp Blatter has been very much in the public eye. Rumour of bribery is rife and a criminal investigation is currently ongoing into the behaviour of Blatter. It is clear that the decision that Qatar is to host the 2022 World Cup has not been based solely upon what is best for football or Qatar itself and has been influenced by a number of exterior, immoral factors. The chance to host a World Cup is a proud moment for any nation but this opportunity has been tarnished by greed and corruption.
One of the most controversial issues since Qatar was awarded the World Cup have been the countries attitude to the human rights of the immigrant workforce being used as labourers. Investigations have found evidence to suggest that these workers face exploitation and abuses that amount to modern day slavery. Under the current system employers take hold of the worker’s passport and can bar them from changing job without permission. Further to this it has been reported that over 1,200 workers have died already working on this project.
Historically the tournament has been a summer event, some may question the decision to therefore award it to a country with 40-50C heat in the summer months. To combat this issue FIFA have taken the unprecedented step of moving the tournament to winter. This will have a profound effect on football not only in Qatar but throughout the world. As aforementioned, the link between awarding the tournament to Qatar and the current corruption scandal with FIFA is unequivocal. Should a tournament in Qatar, with a bid shrouded in controversy, be allowed disrupt such long standing European leagues that haven’t seen disruption akin to this since WWII?
Hosting the World Cup in a nation with widely different cultural beliefs and morals to the majority of the fans that will be visiting is sure to cause much aggravation and raise tensions. Alcohol sales are extremely limited and it is an offence to drink in public places, drastically effecting fans experiences. There are also issues with the expected behaviour of female fans. Cultural differences in what is considered as ‘appropriate’ female dress has already provoked concern. Homosexuality in Qatar is illegal and may lead to criminal sanctions. This has led many to members of the LGBT claiming that “FIFA is colluding with homophobic discrimination”.
As can be seen, the topic is complex with many factors contributing. From a consequentialism viewpoint it could be said that the Qatar World Cup should not go ahead due to the severe loss of life and human rights issues which have stemmed from it. The consequence of letting a decision swayed by bribery and corruption are also severe.
Conversely, an intuitive standpoint may suggest that the tournament will only help an already growing nation. Hosting what will no doubt be an impressive event will help enhance the nation’s reputation for high standard living.
16: Monika Taneska, Connor Pilling, Benjamin Norman, Edward Marston