FIFA World Cup 2022: Qatar plagued by controversy over human rights record
The largest sporting spectacle on earth is only days away with kick-off on November 18 and talk leading up to the FIFA World Cup has been marred due to host nation Qatar's controversial human rights record.
In 2010, Qatar became the first Middle East nation to be awarded the rights to host the FIFA World Cup.
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But, it only took six months for the Gulf nation to be embroiled in a corruption scandal with allegations Qatar 'bought' votes to land the rights to host the World Cup.
Since the allegations, Qatar has been ridiculed for its human rights record, stance on same-sex relationships and treatment of migrant workers.
Migrant workers exposed in Qatar
One of the biggest controversies coming out of Qatar has been the number of reported deaths and the treatment of migrant workers who were hired to help build the stadiums and infrastructure at the World Cup.
In 2019, the UN released a report calling for further safeguards to help protect workers from working in the extreme humidity and heat in order to make sure the stadiums were ready.
In 2020, the Human Rights Watch released a report that claimed migrant workers were having their wages withheld during their time in Qatar.
A Guardian report in 2021 claimed more than 6,500 migrant workers had died in Qatar since the beginning of preparations fro the 2022 World Cup.
The nation has fervently hit back at the reports, but the issue over worker safety and treatment has been a major issue leading into this year's tournament.
Same-sex relationships forbidden
Another human rights controversy erupting in the nation is Qatar's strict policy on homosexuality.
According to the Human Dignity Trust, homosexuality is punishable by death in the Gulf nation.
Public displays of affection are even frowned upon from heterosexual couples. Women are also expected to be in the company of their husbands when out in public.
With hundreds of thousands of travellers entering Qatar ahead of the FIFA World Cup, there is concern from many nations over how they will be treated.FIFA reportedly agreed with Qatari officials to allow fans to showcase the pride flag in stadiums.
However, with the enormous numbers of people travelling to Qatar from all over the world, what happens surrounding the laws and what has been agreed upon between FIFA and the state remains to be seen.
Nations call out Qatar's human rights record
The reports around human rights have sent shockwaves throughout the football world in recent years.
Last year, Norway made a stand after revealing t-shirts that read: "Human rights on, and off the pitch." doubled down with their protest and revealed
The German national team joined in on the protest after they stood together with the words 'Human Rights' across their t-shirts.
Denmark then revealed their minimalist World Cup jerseys in protest against the competition being held in Qatar. The third kit is black to represent the colour of mourning to pay tribute to the huge numbers of workers that have reportedly died over the years building the stadiums for the tournament.
England and nine other European nations will be wearing 'One Love' armbands in a peaceful protest.
And in a trailblazing move, the Australian players released a video calling for human rights needs to be met and for Qatar to abolish laws dismissing same-sex relationships.
The players specifically addressed the horrible suppression of LGBTIQ+ rights in the conservative Gulf nation.
The Socceroos and captain Mat Ryan delivered a line-by-line statement in the video which raised the LGBTIQ+ rights suppression in Qatar.
"As players we fully support the rights of the LGBTI+ people," the players said.
"But in Qatar people are not free to love the person that they choose. Addressing these issues is not easy and we do not have all the answers."
A message from the Socceroos. pic.twitter.com/Sd2R6ej8kK
— Subway Socceroos (@Socceroos) October 26, 2022
England star Jordan Henderson was one player to address the controversy around the players being in the spotlight while in Qatar.
Henderson has been a huge supporter of the Stonewall Rainbow Lace's campaign during his time at Liverpool.
However, he reminded viewers that the players never chose to play in Qatar and can only do what they can to help raise awareness.
"When you do things as a team or as players, I'm always conscious that no matter what we do that it will never be enough," Henderson told BBC Breakfast. "You've got to be satisfied in your own mind and know what you're doing you think is right and go with that."
"But at the end of the day, the players don't decide where the World Cup is played. They're questions for FIFA to answer," he added.
Fans across the world have also continually condemned the World Cup being held in Qatar.
Most recently, Bayern Munich fans held up a banner that read: "15,000 dead for 5,760 minutes of football...shame on you."
'15,000 dead for 5,760 minutes of football... shame on you.'
FC Bayern Munich's banner today ahead of the Qatar World Cup. pic.twitter.com/Uu5zdn2Q4E
— Lewis Steele (@LewisSteele_) November 5, 2022
FIFA cops backlash after addressing nations
With each coming report or protest, Qatar has defended the frameworks and improvements they have made throughout the process.
To make matters worse, FIFA sent a letter, signed by president Gianni Infantino, calling for the 32 competing nations at the Qatar World Cup to "please, let's now focus on the football.”
"But please do not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists.
It goes on: "At Fifa, we try to respect all opinions and beliefs, without handing out moral lessons to the rest of the world. No one people or culture or nation is "better" than any other. This principle is the very foundation stone of mutual respect and non-discrimination.
"And this is also one of the core values of football. So, please let's all remember that and let football take centre stage.
"We have the unique occasion and opportunity to welcome and embrace everyone, regardless of origin, background, religion, gender, sexual orientation or nationality."
However, the letter was met with huge backlash from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch officials.
Qatari ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has also said that while some criticism was constructive, it also included fabrications and double standards.
And with only days left till the first ball is kicked, time will only tell how nations, players and fans respond in Qatar while the global spotlight is on them for the world to see.
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