Qatar and the World Cup

Qatar and the World Cup

Andrew Morrone

Every four years, thirty-two countries send their best team to play in the biggest tournament in the world. The World Cup is a soccer tournament that started in 1930, and every four years, the best soccer nations in the world compete to prove that they are the best. Soccer is the most watched sport in the world. In 2018, it was estimated that 3.572 billion people watched the World Cup. Every World Cup is played in a different country. In 2018, it was played in Russia. This year, it is being played in Qatar. The final will take place Sunday, December 18th, and will be played in the Lusail Iconic Stadium in Lusail.

Photo courtesy of The Atlantic


The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) qualified for the 2022 World Cup, and was put into group B facing off with Wales, England, and Iran. Led by captain Tyler Adams, the United States came second in the group with a draw to Wales (1-1), a draw with England (0-0), and a win over Iran (1-0). The United States was able to advance to the knockout stage, where every game is a win or the team gets sent home, but unfortunately, the US could not defeat the Netherlands. With goals from Memphis Depay and Daley Blind in the first half, the United States found themselves having to make a comeback to win. A goal by Haji Wright in the 76th minute gave the United States some hope, but a late goal from Denzel Dumfries sealed the deal for the Dutch, who advanced, winning 3-1. This knocked the United States out of the tournament. The USMNT was the second youngest team competing in the world cup after Ghana. Their average age was 25.2 years old. The USMNT failed to qualify for the 2018 world cup but has a guaranteed spot in the 2026 World Cup (“USA squad numbers”). They are guaranteed a spot with Mexico and Canada because they will be the hosts. 


The 2022 World Cup is being played in the country of Qatar. It is the smallest country to ever host a World Cup. Qatar had a poor performance in their first World Cup, not winning a game and being the first team eliminated from the World Cup. They had the worst performance ever by a host nation, and became the first host nation to lose the opening match in which they lost 2-0 to Ecuador. Qatar was awarded the hosting of the 2022 World Cup in 2010, and is the first Arab nation to do so. It is also the first World Cup to ever not be hosted in the summer due to Qatar’s extreme heat. Qatar hosting the World Cup became a very controversial topic. In 2011, two FIFA executives were caught in a bribery scandal. Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago demanded 4 million dollars for an education center he planned to fund, and Nicolas Leroy of Paraguay asked to be knighted in for his vote. FIFA executives, Jacques Anouma of Côte d’Ivoire and Issa Hayatou of Cameroon also faced heavy allegations . 

Another major talking point that makes the Qatari World Cup so controversial is the rights and conditions of the workers that built these stadiums. Qatar used around 30,000 migrants and around 1.5 million workers in total to build these stadiums. Qatari officials reported that there were between 400 and 500 deaths of workers while building the stadiums, but a report from February 2021 from The Guardian reported that approximately 6,500 workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka alone had died constructing these stadiums (Pattisson and McIntyre). This does not count the large populations of workers from Qatar, the Philippines, Kenya, and other countries. The Qatari government reported that nearly all the deaths were from natural causes, but Amnesty International, an organization focused on human rights, accused the Qatari government of not investigating the deaths of the workers. According to NPR, workers were forced to work overtime and do jobs they weren’t qualified for, like firefighting and plumbing. It was also said that wage theft and racism were common themes workers had to deal with, and salaries for workers were only $165 a month (Mills and Evans). This was only two-thirds of what they were promised. Workers also reported that if they took breaks, their salaries decreased. 

Another controversial topic is that same-sex marriage is illegal in Qatar. One Qatari World Cup Ambassador even said that homosexuality was “damage in the mind.” However, Qatari officials have previously said everyone is welcome at the World Cup. FIFA rejected the “OneLove” campaign, and FIFA said they would penalize both players and countries for wearing the “OneLove” pride armband. This isn’t the first time FIFA has been ignorant about protecting LGBTQ+ couples at the World Cup. During the 2018 World Cup, a gay French couple was beaten by a mob of Russian fans due to their sexuality. Russia was the host nation of the 2018 World Cup, and Russia is known for its anti-LGBTQ rights. Qatar is a very conservative nation, and asked everyone coming to Qatar for the world cup to respect their culture and traditions. This also includes alcohol consumption. Alcohol is illegal in Qatar, but there are specific alcohol zones that were set up for World Cup fans to enjoy before and after the games. 

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