Controversies of Qatar

Leah Tharian and Fatima Qureshi

With billions of people tuning into the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the country of Qatar felt the eyes of the world. However, several controversies and tragedies that lurked under the allure of soccer have surfaced during the recent months. 

Many have raised questions about the treatment of migrant workers who built the stadium in Qatar. A global movement, Amnesty, released a statement regarding the poor working conditions: withholding salaries, deaths from unhealthy environments, and dehydration; despite the labor reforms in 2014. Reportedly, around 6,500 workers have died due to these brutal conditions. It is evident that the labor system in Qatar is quite temporary, made up predominantly of temporary labor. However, Qatar formally refutes these criticisms that workers were kept against their will, while working under brutal conditions. 

There have also been various instances where homophobic themes were present during the sporting event. From the 2022 FIFA World Cup Ambassador, Khalid Salman, making several homophobic remarks to the Qatari government failing to reject this prejudice, the country conveyed tones of discrimination towards the LGBTQ+ community. Since homosexuality is still illegal in Qatar, seven European team captains were prohibited from wearing multi-colored “One Love” arm bands to support LGBTQ+ rights. The 2022 FIFA World Cup has shown that Qatar has a long way to go in terms of LGBTQ+ rights and inclusivity.

Those who had bought tickets to see the world cup were aghast to find that alcohol would only be sold at discreet locations. Just eight days before the opening ceremonies of the World Cup, Budweiser, a main sponsor of the World Cup, was given an order to move their beer stalls to concealed locations. This order came from the Qatari royal family who were concerned that the high exposure of alcohol would create security problems and distress the public. Ultimately, fans were able to drink in certain locations in the stadium after 6:30 pm while also having designated sobering-up areas for those who were drunk.

The rules reflect Qatar’s conservative culture, yet the nation is prompted to change with the times. From the brutal labor conditions of temporary laborers, the homophobic stance the country adheres to, and the nation’s strict policies with alcohol, Qatar has shown the world that the nation respects tradition yet has not come to terms with modernity.