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Op-Ed: The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is Accused of Human Rights Violations

World Cup 2022 takes place in Qatar from November 20 to December 18; 32 teams to compete in eight groups; England faces Iran on the second day of the tournament while Wales faces USA; and Wales vs England on November 29.  
World Cup 2022 takes place in Qatar from November 20 to December 18; 32 teams to compete in eight groups; England faces Iran on the second day of the tournament while Wales faces USA; and Wales vs England on November 29.   File photo: FIFG, Shutter Stock, licensed.

PORTSMOUTH, OH – “There is arguably nothing more prestigious in sport than hosting a World Cup,” proclaims The Sporting News. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup is an international association football (soccer) competition. And it’s a big deal in the world of sports.  

Schedule in a nutshell: World Cup 2022 takes place in Qatar from November 20 to December 18; 32 teams to compete in eight groups; England faces Iran on the second day of the tournament while Wales faces USA; and Wales vs England on November 29.  

I’m not seeing any protests in the USA concerning the alleged human rights violations in the country of Qatar. Why? Hmmm. Qatar hosts America’s largest military base in the region, Al-Udeid, a vital air base that provides access to a region critical to the global economy.  

Moreover, mainstream media is mostly silent about the human rights violations in Qatar. 


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“Take the 2022 World Cup. Qatar’s hosting of soccer’s preeminent tournament was bought with bribes, and its stadiums built with slave labor. But even now, after years of international scrutiny over its detention and maltreatment of migrant workers, Qatar continues to abuse them. Qatar does so because it believes it can get away with doing so. And it is right,” surmised a 2020 opinion piece in The Washington Examiner.

In 2013, the Bleacher Report, a167-page document, was released and accused “subcontractors in charge of construction of taking advantage of migrant workers, forcing them to work long hours through harsh conditions and, at times, against their will.” 

“Migrant workers building Khalifa International Stadium in Doha for the 2022 World Cup have suffered systematic abuses, in some cases forced labor,” Amnesty International revealed in a 2016 report. The article continued, “Migrants building a state-of-the-art stadium for the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar are abused and exploited – while FIFA makes huge profits.”

What responsibility, legal or otherwise, lies with FIFA over human rights abuses related to the World Cup in Qatar? That question was asked by the Human Rights Institute in Australian.  

“FIFA’s fateful decision of 2 December 2010 to select Qatar as the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup was made despite – or because of – the host projecting expenditures totaling US$200 billion due, in part, to the scale of the construction undertaking involved. A decade later, it is understood that more than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar.” 

I read the extensive answers and reports – blah, blah, blah – follow the FIFA money trail and you’ll find the real answers. Follow the sports power trail and you’ll find the culprits. From FIFA to the coaches/players/fans to the corporate sponsors – the games must go on. Human suffering is null and void when money and power reign supreme in the sports arena.   

The World Cup hosts who work with the United Nations (UN) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) are giving lip service to human rights issues as well. Can we say hypocrites?  

It appears that London and Paris are making pathetic objections but more so because of the environmental impact instead of human rights violations. 

What does the US Department of State (Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor) report about Qatar? Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: restrictions on free expression, including the existence of criminal libel laws; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, including overly restrictive laws on the organization, funding, or operation of nongovernmental organizations and civil society organizations; restrictions on migrant workers’ freedom of movement; inability of citizens to change their government peacefully in free and fair elections; serious and unreasonable restrictions on political participation, including prohibitions on political parties; lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence; existence of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct; and prohibitions on independent trade unions. 

Freedom of Expression: Citizens did not regularly discuss sensitive political and religious matters in public forums, but they did so in private and on social media. The law prohibits criticism of the Amir. Members of the majority foreign population exercised self-censorship on sensitive topics. The law penalizes by up to three years in prison damaging, removing, or expressing hatred and contempt toward the country’s flag, the Gulf Cooperation Council flag, or the flag of any international organization or authority.  

Freedom of Expression for Members of the Press and Other Media, Including Online Media: The law includes restrictive procedures on the establishment of newspapers, their closure, and the confiscation of assets of a publication. Members of the ruling family or proprietors who enjoyed close ties to government officials owned all print media. Both private and government-owned television and radio reflected government views, although call-in shows allowed for some citizen criticism of government ministries and policies. 

“Human rights are praised more than ever – and violated as much as ever.”  

Anna Lindh
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