The ongoing World Cup controversies
As the World Cup comes to a start, Harry McPhail provides an overview of the ongoing controversies.
The Qatar 2022 World Cup has been steeped in controversy since the success of their bid in 2010 but as we enter the early days of the tournament the reality is hitting home. For the first time, the biggest football tournament is being played in the Arab world and while there has been praise for the diversification of the beautiful game, FIFA has been widely criticised for allowing the tournament to be played in a country with an incredibly poor record on human rights.
The Qataris have been criticised for their workers’ rights, LGBTQ+ rights as well as poor women’s rights. In comparison to the 2026 host nation of the USA, there is a stark contrast in how fans can expect to be treated.
6,500 migrant workers, according to a Guardian report, have died since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar in 2010. Despite this being a claim denied by Qatari officials, the evidence is stacked against them. Their extensive stadium programme alongside wide-ranging hospitality and travel infrastructures has involved thousands of workers. The conditions for these workers have been said to be well below global standards.
Qataris have been criticised for their workers’ rights, LGBTQ+ rights as well as poor women’s rights.
Put bluntly, many are confused about how a nation with such poor moral credit was able to convince the footballing world that it was appropriate for the World Cup to be played there. It seems clear from multiple court cases and significant media research, that corruption has been at play throughout. When Qatar won the bid in 2010 FIFA was run by Sepp Blatter who has since faced a range of corruption allegations and was forced to resign.
What has become an interesting result of the backlash that the Qatar World Cup has faced has been the reaction and position of the sponsors and individuals associated with the World Cup.
A point of controversy just days before the World Cup began surrounded the beer brand Budweiser which has a big sponsorship agreement with the Qatar World Cup. When Qatar announced just a couple of days before the first game that no alcohol would be sold in stadiums, Budweiser’s Twitter, in a since-deleted tweet, reacted with ‘well this is awkward’. While the ban should not come as a complete surprise considering Qatar’s culture, sponsors have become growingly worried that their allegiance with the tournament will result in damaging scrutiny. The fact that Budweiser’s sponsorship seems undermined raises question marks over the trust big corporations can have when partnering with the tournament.
On the topic of beer companies, Brewdog, known for controversial advertising campaigns, has been running an anti-World Cup campaign called ‘the World F*Cup’.
Sponsors have becoming growingly worried that their allegiance with the trounament will result in damaging scrutiny.
There has been discussion also about singers who will perform in Qatar. Dua Lipa has come out saying she rejected the chance to sing at the World Cup in contrast to Robbie Williams who has accepted an invitation to perform at the tournament.
Underlying the whole tournament lies an odd acceptance of the corruption within football. FIFA has attempted to reinvent itself following multiple arrests made in 2015 (see the recent
Netflix documentary on this for more – it is fascinating). The awarding of the 2018 World Cup in Russia coupled with Qatar’s 2022 success were at the centre of these criminal claims.
The World Cup is all about the moments, the Zidane headbutt, the Iniesta winner, Lampard off the crossbar or dare I say the Maradona handball. This version of the greatest tournament in football will be different. Qatar 2022 must represent a reflection point for football else the game could be doomed for further corruption.