Should this FIFA World Cup in Qatar 2022 really be named as such? Or should it be named as something more fitting to the context of this particular global footballing event over the winter months? The Blurred Cup for example? How much do you actually know about this world cup, besides maybe the names of the 32 national teams, who your home country plays in the next round, or the fact that this is probably Messi's last world cup? I'd wager that you do not know as much as you think you do, and certainly not as much as I think you should know.
It appears its nearly common knowledge now that between 6,000-15,000 migrant workers (The Times estimate 6,500 ) have died in the building of stadiums and other infrastructure in preparation for this event in the 12 years since it was awarded the rights to be the host country of the 2022 World Cup in 2010. This fact has been shared around and had stories written on by many well known and prestigious news companies, mentioned on social media posts by huge names and figures in the footballing scene (E.g Gary Lineker). However, if you asked the Qatari government, this number was as low as a measly 37 deaths (between 2014 and 2020. (Though recently, the World Cup chief has admitted that "the estimate is around 400 " and doesnt have "an exact number", even still this is appalling as we are aware that numbers are likely much higher than this). This shows a clear lack of care and consideration for the people who have died in order to put on this event, and their families who are in effect being silenced and shut out. This type of controversy has not been present at previous World Cup's, likely due to many reasons. These could include extremely poor workers and human rights within the country of Qatar, or simply due to the fact that all of these stadiums had to be built from scratch (creating an enormous carbon footprint may I add) whereas the stadiums used to host other World Cup's were mainly already existing stadiums. However, the topic of stadiums has been host to some compliment to the country. Stadium 974 has been front and centre of this as it is the first of its kind, in the fact that the stadium is completely demountable and can be taken deconstructed and reconstructed in different places, hence making it the first "reusable" and "portable" stadium of its kind (being covered and having above 40,000 seats capacity). Though even this has sparked some controversy, as it has been rumoured to be being transported to the continent of North America in order to be one of the host stadiums for the 2026 World Cup taking place over the USA, Canada and Mexico. People have said that the carbon footprint of transferring all of the containers and other parts would be massive as they would have to be transported via the oceans, meaning that this stadium is in a way no less environmentally friendly than others as this would likely keep happening tournament after tournament.
Furthermore, the economic spending of infrastructure alone on this World Cup so far is thought to be in the region of $200 billion. This is 20 times more than Russia were known to spend on their World Cup hosting in 2018. This is also about 5x the spending on all World Cup's combined since 1990. For a country with a population of less than half of the population of London alone, (around 3 million people compared to London's 8.8 million) all of this seems a bit excessive for a tournament that will last only 28 days, this is just further exemplified when you consider the fact that most of the stadiums will serve no use after the tournament (with an exception being Stadium 974 - the shipping container stadium previously mentioned). The World Cup is expected to bring in $4.7 billion in revenue, which most would consider excellent... If they hadn't spent $200 billion on construction of infrastructure alone, leaving the country massively in debt. Close to $195 billion of debt, which could have seen the money used for a lot more important things, such as improving quality of social services, building meaningful infrastructure or improving the quality of life for its inhabitants.
On the topic of the inhabitants quality of life, Qatarians are subject to some of the poorest human rights laws in the world, with women having to face discrimination in virtually everyway, family laws making it almost impossible for them to divorce, women sometimes being forced into human trafficking and prostitution, LGBTQ+ people being frowned upon and punishable by a hefty fine and up to 3 years in prison, utterly disgusting. Furthermore, apostasy (same sex intercourse) is known to be punishable by death, as it is considered a capital offence, although no known cases where this penalty has been enforced have been heard of. As well as this, there are restrictions on some of our most basic human rights such as freedom of expression. About 90% of the population of Qatar, isnt even Qatari! The government are oh so aware of this and have changed legislation hence so that only people born in Qatar and naturalised citizens with a Qatari grandparent can vote, therefore meaning a high majority of the population, that work so hard in and for Qatar, actually have little to no influence on decisions on their "home" country whatsoever. This is unlike more western countries with better human rights laws like England, where all legally registered foreign nationals can vote as long as they are over 16 years of age.
So where does this leave the legacy of the Qatar World Cup? Well, part of this relies on the outcome of the tournament itself, and whoever wins is likely to associate more positive memories with this event, but for the other 31 teams who had the chance to win but just missed out, human rights activists, climate activists, anybody else who has heard about the controversy surrounding this event, the rest of the world even, it is likely that they will remember the legacy of the controversy, injustice and the inadequate legal system in Qatar. Yes yes, I know there are definitely good things about the world cup, the thrill of the tournament, the goals, the energy, the spotlight finally being on these smaller nations. However this spotlight just places these smaller nations under much heavier scrutiny than most others, the cracks in the floorboards of the country are being revealed, poor human rights laws, unacceptable treatment of the LGBTQ+ community, immigrant deaths, climate worries, theyre all being brought to the attention of the world, and this leads me to the question of how do we react? What changes are made as a result of this? What can we do to help the people of this nation? Can we do anything? Why should we do something? People are likely to forget about this once the final whistle is blown in the tournament, but this wont stop the death, punishment and tragedy. So what will?