I think there are lots of issues to do with holding the World Cup in Qatar but I think there are very few that are unique to Qatar. The main one is that the World Cup is usually held in the summer so the players can play for their clubs as well as for their country. Because it is being played in the winter this year there are going to be differences within the club games. But I am not quite sure why there is being such a fuss about the human rights issues.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think there are major human rights issues in Qatar and much of the Middle East around woman’s rights, LGBTQ rights, migrant rights, but I do not believe this area is unique for it. The Olympics were held in China which also has a poor record on human rights. The world seem to have forgotten the Tienanmen Square massacre, where Chinese troops slaughtered their own people for protesting. But still the Olympics went ahead.
There are many countries that have appalling human rights records whether to do with sexuality, gender, race, religion, age, and yet still major sporting events happen in these places. But then like many of the people who are allowed in as refugees does it depend what are view of these people are?
I think of the people crossing both the Mediterranean and the English Channel in tiny boats at exorbitant prices. First the question needs to be ask about the human rights in their countries that they are leaving, second why do they not stop in other countries along the way and work so hard to get into the UK, and then third why is the UK so reluctant to let people in? Do we have a good human rights record in the UK when it comes to certain people groups?
I do think it is right to use these big events to raise issues about the state of human rights in these countries and challenge the leaders of these countries about how they treat others. But I do think so much in sport also comes down to money. Qatar was willing to pay billions to get ready for this event, and they are preparing for other major events too. These oil rich countries do have the money to do this. With the budget, if that is what it is called, that has come from the UK chancellor this week is anything to go by the UK cannot afford to hold a major sporting event.
Yes these countries to do need to sort out how they treat women, LGBTQ people, migrants, and others, but then so does the UK. Perhaps instead of just muttering about it there could be a major campaign by world leaders to look at human rights issues, to change their own policies first and then to encourage other countries to do the same.
But I do think we need to stop looking at the economic issues and what we really want. If the FIFA World Cup or the Olympics or Formula One motor racing or major golf tournaments or other sporting events can only happen in places that can afford them and who treat others well then maybe they would have to cease. Who would be happy with FIFA announcing that there would be no more World Cup because no one could really afford it as we are in a world recession?