😀 The Good: First FIFA World Cup to be held in the Middle East
😔 The Bad: Serious issues around timing of the World Cup
😡 The Ugly: Controversies around Qatar's human rights record and worker deaths
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is set to enter a new frontier, with Qatar given the honour of becoming the first nation from the Middle East to host the global football showpiece.
While it's great news for the region, it's also shone a global spotlight on the country's human rights record, and disturbing reports about the number of workers who've died making it happen.
First FIFA World Cup to be held in the Middle East
The Qatar showpiece represents the first time a FIFA World Cup has been held in the Middle East, in what is set to be a landmark moment for the sport in the region.
Coming fresh off the delayed Euro 2020 and Tokyo Olympics last year, it will offer sporting fans a form of escapism after years of Covid-19 misery.
Qatar organisers have described it as a "unique and special" event for the country and one which will leave "a profound legacy for Qatar, the region and the entire world.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino added: “What I see here is a country that is preparing to welcome the whole world, and every fan, but also looking into where improvements are needed and taking real steps to do so in many different areas, particularly in relation to human rights and workers’ welfare.”
Serious issues around timing of Qatar World Cup
The searing temperatures in Qatar in June/July mean the 2022 World Cup is - for the first time ever - being held in the Northern Hemisphere's winter, bringing about a range of issues.
Domestic competitions around the world are being forced to go on 'hold' for around six weeks, with club games happening right up until almost one week before the World Cup kicks off on November 21.
As well as the logistical nightmare for clubs, the timing of the World Cup is also a serious issue for the growing list of players picking up injuries in the lead-up.
Several high-profile stars including Paul Pogba have already been ruled out, while others such as South Korea's Son Heung-min and Senegal forward Sadio Mane have gone down with injury in recent days.
When domestic competitions resume again after the World Cup in late December, injuries will inevitably be a concern for the world's biggest clubs, as the fixtures pile up.
Qatar slammed over worker deaths, human rights record
The World Cup in Qatar has been plagued by numerous controversies including the country's treatment of migrant workers, its human rights record and stance on homosexuality.
Amnesty International has reported that since 2010 hundreds of thousands of migrant workers have faced human rights abuses while employed to build infrastructure for the tournament.
A Guardian report in 2021 claimed more than 6,500 migrant workers had died working on sites in Qatar, despite local officials disputing those numbers.
Qatar has also been slammed for its criminalisation of homosexuality, with teams around the world - including the Socceroos - speaking out in support of LGBTQIA+ rights.
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