Qatar will not be hosting the 2022 World Cup due to high summer temperatures. This is a classic example of correct decision, wrong reason.
It has been announced by FIFA Executive Committee member Theo Zwanziger that Qatar is just too hot during the summer, and such conditions put both players and fans in unnecessary risk.
While I am glad at this decision, I regret that an important opportunity has been missed. FIFA has already been criticized for the human rights violations in Brazil leading up to the last world cup, and concerning Qatar, they had an opportunity to make an important statement about human rights and the basic dignity of all people.
So what was (and is) happening to Qatar? According to the Human Rights Watch World Report 2014, this is a nation in which 90% of its residents are not Qatari nationals. While there are labor laws in the country, they are not enforced concerning these migrant workers. Leading up to the possibility of gaining the 2022 World Cup, migrant workers have flowed into the country at an alarming rate. According to the report:
“Workers typically pay exorbitant recruitment fees and employers regularly take control of their passports when they arrive in Qatar. The kafala (sponsorship) system ties a migrant worker’s legal residence to his or her employer, or sponsor. Migrant workers commonly complain that employers fail to pay their wages on time if at all, but are barred from changing jobs without their sponsoring employer’s consent other than in exceptional cases and with express permission of the Interior Ministry. Adding to their vulnerability, they must obtain an exit visa from their sponsor in order to leave Qatar. Migrant workers are prohibited from unionizing or engaging in strikes, although they make up 99 percent of the private sector workforce.
“Many migrant workers live in cramped, unsanitary conditions, especially those working without documentation.”
Although, this is nothing new for the Qatari migrant work force:
“Domestic migrant workers, almost all women, are especially vulnerable. In addition to the problems the general migrant worker population face, they are also subject to verbal, physical, and in some cases, sexual abuse. Some are not allowed to speak to strangers or are locked up in the homes where they work. Many do not receive a day off. They are not afforded any protection under Qatari labor law, which could provide them with days of rest and limit their working hours among other measures.”
The Qatari preparation for the world cup was a human rights disaster. Their infrastructure was being built on the backs of what can only be called slave labor.
This was where FIFA could have stepped in. They could have called out Qatar, made it clear that their organization would not support the massive violation of human rights. They could have taken a stand, and explained that their’s is an organization which aims to bring the world together in a show of our equal worth and dignity as human beings. They could have said that, due to the treatment of migrant workers, the World Cup would not be in Qatar.
The other option, of course, is to just complain that it will be too hot.