FIFA Cup Exposes Qatar’s Ugly Reality

I’ve changed my mind.

I used to believe awarding any kind of international games, conventions or exhibitions to autocratic dictatorships and human rights abusers was a travesty and should NEVER be done.

I still believe part of that …. awarding any kind of international games, conventions or exhibitions to autocratic dictatorships and human rights abusing nations IS wrong.

However, in today’s much more politically, technologically sophisticated and social media-transformed world, when terrible dictatorships and countries do become host countries, it provides great opportunities to EXPOSE WORLDWIDE their demeaning … even barbaric … laws, policies and practices, including dismal treatment of their own people and any others who fall into their grip.

Like Qatar.

As a news junkie, I have long been aware of Qatar’s inhumane treatment of migrant workers, its dictatorial ruling system, its medieval laws, its severe penalties against use/possession recreational drugs, its threats and penalties against homosexual behaviour and its despicable restrictions on women.

“Women in Qatar must obtain permission from their male guardians to marry, study abroad on government scholarships, work in many government jobs, travel abroad until certain ages, receive some forms of reproductive health care and to act as a child’s primary guardian, even when they are divorced,” according to Wikipedia.

” Qatar Preventive Security Department forces have arbitrarily arrested lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and subjected them to ill-treatment in detention,” Human Rights Watch reported just weeks ago.

Why don’t Qataris speak up?

Well, here’s how Freedom House has described Qatar’s family-ruled “governmental” dictatorship: “Qatar’s hereditary emir holds all executive and legislative authority and ultimately controls the judiciary. Political parties are not permitted, and the only elections are for an advisory municipal council.”

Yet, THIS is the country FIFA rewarded with the World Cup games???

It should not have happened.

Not to forget, Qatar also is the home of Al Jazeera, the heavily government-funded international “news” operation I would describe as the world’s most dangerous English language media propaganda operation. (It makes Fox News and MSNBC actually seem fair and balanced! LOL!)

After watching (monitoring) it regularly for years, I see Qatar’s AJA as having very clear objectives: Islamifying Europe, with constant pressures on Europe and the UK to keep accepting thousands more refugees/economic migrants every week, on desperate journeys from the Mid-East and Africa (why doesn’t Qatar welcome them?); opposition to the Abdel el-Sisi government in Egypt and support for the extremist Muslim Brotherhood; terribly one-sided biased reporting of Israeli/Palestinian conflict, I believe showing clear sympathy/support for Hamas (NEVER any tough questions for them!) and even honouring with their “reporting” Palestinian terrorists killed in shootouts, while ignoring/downplaying their civilian victims or grieving families.

THIS is the Qatar the world knew little about until FIFA awarded the emirate the games.

However, just as the world learned a great deal about corruption, human rights abuses in Russia and China when they hosted Olympic Games, the five billion people around the world who will watch the World Cup now know the ugly realities of Qatar.

And can mourn the reported 6,000 to 8,000 poverty-stricken migrant workers, from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and the Philippines who died while building Qatar’s FIFA venues, forced to work up to 18 hours a day, seven days a week in temperatures that reached 45 C (113 F).

Hard to enjoy the FIFA games this year … knowing all this.

Harv Oberfeld

(Free to republish, with attribution. Follow @harveyoberfeld on Twitter for Free First Alerts to all new postings on this Blog.)

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15 Responses to FIFA Cup Exposes Qatar’s Ugly Reality

  1. Stu de Baker says:

    Interesting you bring this up now, when I was thinking I might have to wait a while before talking about your favourite Vancouver liberator.

    Two weeks since Sim was sworn in and he’s just exposed himself as a political neophyte. Never mind the criticism from the Chinese community, never mind the school liaison pushback and never mind the revelation that he can’t fund his “on day one” cops and nurses promise.

    Not only is his trip to Qatar controversial, his waffling position on it is very unsettling.

    Here’s what he has had to say, all in the same interview;
    “It’s a personal trip.”
    “It’s on my own dime.”
    “I asked a few colleagues, and made sure they felt good about it.”
    “Representing Vancouver is responsible.”
    When asked why not just let the Vancouver delegation go, he replied he was a strong believer in “walking the shop floor to pick up things first hand.”

    He can’t have it both ways; calling it both personal and city business. His lack of understanding the optics is troublesome.

    (Response: He should not go there, even if it’s on his own time and dime .. and, apart from actual footballers, no one from any democracy should invest or visit Qatar … until they liberate their own people and stop abusing migrant workers, women, gays. h.o)

  2. Beenie says:

    Do you really think that those awful countries care what the rest of the world thinks??

    (Response: Most dictatorships don’t, but some do, because they want to increase their world standing, tourism and acceptability, I hear Qatar spent $300 million on an advertising campaign to improve its image … and world pressure has brought about some improvements there … though there’s still a very long way to go. h.o.)

  3. JC says:

    Qatar is clearly an appalling country and FIFA should be ashamed of itself for awarding them the World Cup. Gianni Infantino, the President of FIFA, gave a speech yesterday that was contradictory beyond belief. Half the time, he spoke as if he were a hard nosed businessmen, and for the rest of it, he was pontificating like some left-wing activist at a campus rally. The German Football Association will be putting forward a motion to have him removed as FIFA President after the games. I hope it passes swiftly.

    Of course, it isn’t a new thing. The International Olympic Committee and FIFA are awful organizations (remember the IOC chose not to move the 1936 Summer Olympics from Berlin after Hitler seized power). They both headquarter themselves in Switzerland, so that they can evade financial scrutiny and Swiss Laws on defamation give them quite a bit of protection from media investigation.

    The British journalist Andrew Jennings (who sadly passed away this year), was an old fashioned Fleet Street crime reporter, and was the first writer to try and shine light on the corruption of FIFA and the IOC. He exposed the financial graft of then IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch and even published photographs of him giving the Fascist salute, when he was Minister of Sport in Spain in the 1970s. Jennings was actually prosecuted for Libel (which can be a criminal offence in Switzerland) and was sentenced to several months in Prison, in absentia. Though, Jennings was unable to enter Switzerland without fear of arrest, he carried on exposing the backhand deals at the IOC and FIFA (the Head of FIFA in the Caribbean nearly assaulted Jennings at an airport in a BBC documentary!). His website (Andrew Jennings – Transparency in Sport) is still online in archive form.

    I suppose the trouble for FIFA and the IOC is that in free countries, citizens know about how corrupt the organizations are and don’t want public funds going to subsidize tournaments that have little to do with sport. Corporate profit is their main obsession. As a result, only Authoritarian countries are willing to spend vast amounts of money on bread and circuses, because, as you said, their citizens have no chance to vote them out or even protest without fear of violence.

    In 1974, the city of Denver held a referendum on cancelling the 1976 Winter Olympics. People were angry about the cost overruns and financial secrecy surrounding the event and, in an act of direct democracy, voted against hosting the Games. The IOC had to scramble to find another City to host and offered them to the then Premier Of BC, Dave Barrett. Mr. Barrett’s response was succinct: Go to Hell!

    In that spirit, I’m quite glad that another NDP government has abandoned the bid to host the 2030 Winter Games, which I think would have been a financial boondoggle (especially with the whole ‘First Nations Led’ initiative). Given how awful FIFA and the IOC are, normal countries should keep well clear of them.

    (Response: Thanks for this: very interesting background. All nations that hold World Games or Exhibitions try to exploit them for political, economic, touristic benefits and to raise their international profile and influence. But in 2022, people should have the right to expect more from the organizers and governing bodies than just awarding them to the highest bidder matter how cruel and corrupt they are. I saw several excerpts of Infantino’s remarks and could not believe how defensive and out of touch with reality he sounded. To even mention discrimination he says he encountered FORTY YEARS AGO as an Italian red-haired freckled kid living with his parents in Switzerland in the context of the abusive treatment of migrant workers (some forced to work seven days a week, in temperatures over 100 F and live four to a room) or imprisoning people just because they are gay or treating women like chattel in 2022 is disgraceful! h.o)

  4. Gilbert says:

    Qatar should have never been awarded the World Cup. It’s clear that money talks. Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said it was a mistake.

    (Response: This FIFA history lesson is from The Mirror in the UK just a few days ago: “Seventeen of the 22 FIFA ExCo members who handed the 2022 World Cup to Qatar have been banned or indicted over allegations of corruption and wrongdoing, but the tournament survived the storm.” You can read the entire article here: It’s appalling. h.o)

  5. Not Sure says:

    “The captains of seven European nations had vowed to wear armbands carrying the heart-shaped, multi-coloured logo of the “One Love” campaign, which promotes inclusion and diversity in soccer and society. That set up the prospect of viewers worldwide seeing a symbol of disapproval with the host country and defiance of FIFA on the arms of England’s Harry Kane, the Netherlands’ Virgil van Dijk and Wales’s Gareth Bale on Monday.”

    That plan was abandoned when

    FIFA warned they would be immediately shown yellow cards — changing the calculus for the seven European teams, which may have expected to merely be fined.

    Good on the players for making the attempt. Disgusting of FIFA for their response.

    (Response: The FIFA board/management fit very well in Qatar: the Qataris promised in applying for the games that beer could be sold at games, and then two days before the matches began, issued an edict banning booze at the sites. Had they said that BEFORE getting the nod, I actually would support that stand, because Qatara is a Muslim state where consumption of alcohol is officially forbidden. But the Qataris lied … and then lowered the boom just before the Opening. FIFA officials also were also deceitful: they were apparently informed back in September that players would be wearing armbands supporting LGBT people (who actually could be executed under Qatari laws!) and FIFA raised NO objections … until the games began, and only then warned that team captains who wore them would be personally sanctioned by FIFA. I feel sorry for the footballers … superb athletes with a love for the game, who have been victimized by both FIFA and Qatar. What a shameful World Cup this has become. h.o)

  6. nonconfidencevote says:

    Qatar /
    What about the last World Cup in ….Russia.
    That bastion of gay rights and free speech.
    Or the last Winter Olympics in China.

    The “Lords of the Rings” or the World Cup bow down to the almighty dollar.
    It isnt about sportsmanship…its about Billions of dollars of advertising revenue.
    Prostitution on a grand scale.

    (Response: It sure looks like the games are For Sale: principles, ethics, human rights be damned. h.o)

  7. Marge says:

    Another good article about the “games”:

    (Response: They sure aren’t making it easier on themselves: today I saw video of a fan from Wales being stopped and detained because he was wearing a rainbow-coloured band on his hat! That’s why I’ve changed my mind somewhat …I don’t like it when games or conventions or world exhibitions are awarded to the worst human rights abusers/dictatorships, but if they do, it gives those who care a chance to expose those despicable countries/leaders/systems …like Qatar … to the world. h.o)

    • nonconfidencevote says:

      We may not be Qatar but are we really all that different when our govt doesnt like what we have to say?

      Do you remember Expo86?
      Premier Bill Bennet said anyone that was against the Expo fair was ‘a bad British Columbian”
      On opening day, a lady wearing a T-shirt that said “I’m a bad British Columbian.” was denied entry….
      Trudeau’s “War Measures Act” in the 1960’s stepped on all our freedom and rights with a boot heel.
      Govt censorship on a grand scale.

      (Response: Innocent people were actually killed by separatist terrorists in Canada before Pierre Trudeau invoked War Measures Act: he did the right thing. However, the Readers of this Blog know I criticized Justin Trudeau’s use of the Emergency Measures Act during the truckers’ protests/disruptions. But that was NOTHING compared to Qatar’s abuses of its own people’s human rights and migrant workers (6,000 to 8,000 dead during venue construction!). h.o)

  8. Stu de Baker says:

    “it gives those who care a chance to expose those despicable countries/leaders/systems …like Qatar … to the world. h.o”
    And sadly a week after the games are over the world will move on and forget all about these exposed issues.

    “Leaders” know this and followers will just plod on, doing what they do best in the moment; nothing.

    (Response: I disagree. As I wrote in another response, “years after most people will have forgotten sportswise anything more than which team wins the 2022 World Cup …. it’s the many stories/memories of what a disgraceful, medieval society Qatar is that will be this games’ biggest legacy.” Many millions of people, I’m sure, had no idea until now of how bad human rights are in Qatar, how workers, women, gays are treated and will now never forget and I believe that will hurt Qatar’s international reputation and tourism for years to come. h.o)

  9. e.a.f. says:

    Qatar may regret spending all that money to be awarded the soccer games. A number of items on the news are not only discussing the soccer games but the political climate in Qatar, i.e. lack of human rights, death of workers, restrictions on women, etc. You certainly can’t trust these countries. They promised to allow Bud to sell their beer. Not so much now.

    Stephen Corberts show last night did a lovely song about the whole thing.

    this is all big business and those who are on these boards of directors of these international organizations, need to go. They’re mostly oveer weight old white men who are having one last grab at the entitlement grab bag of life.

    Of course all the media will cover the games and the Os, regardless of where it is. Wonder what would have happened if the T.V. stations said, NO we are not covering the games. Its not going to happen, but one can dream.

    What remains to be seen is if any westerners are arrested for “violating” Qatar rules.

    (Response: They have already “detained” some visitors for a while for as little as wearing a rainbow insignia on a T-shirt. And a Danish TV crew was warned to stop filming on a public street and warned they have their camera smashed. Read that story here: In fact, years after most people will have forgotten sportswise anything more than which team wins the 2022 World Cup …. it’s the many stories/memories of what a disgraceful, medieval society Qatar is that will be this games’ biggest legacy. h.o)

  10. D. M. Johnston says:

    FIFA, the IOC, seem like birds of feather, completely and totally corrupt.

    It is now being revealed that FIFA officials took bribes, securing the Word cup for Qatar.

    “A senior Fifa official took at least $1m in bribes to vote for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup, a witness testified in court on Tuesday, as part of a broad investigation into corruption at Fifa.”

    News Flash: It has now been reported that three senior FIFA officials took $1 million each in bribes to ensure Qatar got the world cup.

    Question: Is not that illegal? Are Swiss officials going to take action? Launch an investigation?

    A Guardian report from February 2021, citing records from national embassies, claimed that more than 6,500 workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died in Qatar by the time of its report, since the Gulf nation was awarded the World Cup hosting rights in 2010.

    Shocking, where is our Prime Minister? Waiting to take orders from China?

    And then there is Vancouver’s new Alphabetic Political Party of Convenience, Ken Sim going to Qatar to watch the games. By doing so, does Sim support millions of dollars paid in bribes and 6,500 deaths building the stadiums to watch what is tantamount to a massive advertising campaign.

    Sim says he is paying his own way, but from recent reports, inked by Terry Glavin, makes me wonder if he is.

    I say shame on FIFA; shame on Trudeau; Shame on Sim; and shame on everyone who watches the games.

    I am numbed by the politcal acquiescence to what is a, to quote you; ” disgraceful, medieval society Qatar is …………..”, holding FIFA’s World cup.

    We are indeed comfortably numb.

  11. Gilbert says:

    In an ideal world, we don’t award the World Cup to a country with no soccer history and until recently, no facilities to host such an event. We shouldn’t give the World Cup to countries that treat migrants like slaves and that use their money to bribe corrupt officials. We shouldn’t award it to a country that lies about allowing beer in stadiums and then reverses its decision two days before the tournament starts.

    What will happen to the stadiums once the tournament ends? Will they actually be used? If Qatar were not a wealthy country, it would not be the host of the World Cup. FIFA is a joke.

    (Response: Qatar is a very, very rich oil-producing country (which makes its brutal treatment of migrant workers even more despicable) so I suspect they will have LOTS of money to repurpose the FIFA stadiums/facilities … or even bring in more poor labourers to tear them down and build new hotels/condos/office buildings/malls. h.o)

  12. e.a.f. says:

    Thanks for the link to the article. Read it. You’d think the government employees would have gotten the memo but apparently not or ignored it. Given the games will go on for some time, at some point something could happen which will have a lot of people regretting the games were awarded to Qatar.

    The world cup for soceer ought to be played in countries where the game is played and enjoyed by the general public. Qatar isn’t one of them. My suggestion is the games be kept to North and South america and Europe. Europe and South America already have stadiums large enough for the games.

    I’d suggest it is about time things like the Os. and the world cup for socceer not be awarded to countries with bad track records in human rights, etc. Perhaps to select the country for the world cup the organization could simply draw the names out of a drum who wanted the games and met the basic criteria, no human rights violations

    I do agree with Qatar holding the games, no one is really paying that much attention to Qatar beyond their violation of human rights. If some western person is attacked by the Qatar police over engaging in normal western behaviour, those FIFA guys are going to have some explaining to do.

    (Response: Yes, as I wrote in the blog piece, at least these games have focused the world’s attention on how poorly the dictatorship in Qatar treats its own citizens ad how even worse it has abused and contributed to the deaths of so many impoverished migrants from third world countries who have gone there with dreams of making money for their families. It is a country where not only any expression of opposition is suppressed or dissenting points of view are stymied but which spends hundreds of millions to spread twisted propaganda worldwide.
    Just this morning, world media reported two terrorist bombings at suburban bus stops in Israel, killing a teenage boy and injuring 19 other people on their way to work/school … and that Hamas, the world recognized terrorist organization governing Gaza (no elections allowed there for 15 years now!) had immediately praised the bombings. However, at the same time, what I have described as Qatar’s propaganda arm, Al Jazeera, reported the attacks …but FAILED initially to point out the dead victim was a 16 year old boy. Instead Al Jazeera immediately brought in two “analysts” I would describe as rabidly anti-Israel who of, course blamed, Israel for the attacks on its own citizens because it occupies the West bank. Since when are ANY terrorist attacks on civilians excusable? As if terrorist attacks would stop if Israel withdrew from the West Bank. No mention, of course, that from 1948 to 1967, Palestinians did have the West Bank and used that border area (literally right across the street from Israel) to fire rockets at Israelis driving along the road across from them and launched hundreds of terrorist incursions into Israel, killing Israeli civilians who were just going about their day. And what makes Qatar’s Al Jazeera so dangerous is that, last month alone on its various platforms, it reached 1.6 BILLION viewers/listeners worldwide with its one-sided propaganda. Just think of how much Qatar’s Al Jazeera’s “reporting” must contribute to the growth/spread of anti-Semitism around the globe! h.o)

  13. e.a.f. says:

    Blaming Israel for the bombings because they occupy land Palestinians want, is like blaming the victims of spousal abuse because the abuser didn’t like something the other did. Its like lets blame the victim and in this case the victim was a 16 yr old kid who doesn’t have a say about anything.

    You’d think by now the Palestinians and other would have gotten the memo. Israel is not going to give up land. Its been some time since the Six day war. They need to get with the agenda. Its like some one is paying them to continue this war, well some one most likely is, but still its plain dumb. People continue to die, hundreds of millions are used for military purposes, people can’t go on having a “regular” life and improve their economy. Qatar and company need to understand this is not a war they can win. The Jews have survived a lot. They will continue to exist. Get over it.
    Part of the problem is Al Jazeera and others make their opinions all look reasonable, but I guess that is why they get paid the big bucks.

    Qatar goes around killing its own citizens and during the soceer matchs Saudi arabia has stepped up executions, I think 17 so far in one week. They thought no one would notice. Why do people even bother to deal with that piece of “shxt” named mbs or some such thing. Its like he has gotten through his mess and now is once again treated like nothing has happened. Well the journalist is still dead and Saudi Arabia has been told its O.K. to kill people you don’t like. We’ll still invite you to dinner.

    (Response: Terrorist attacks on civilians are NEVER excusable, by any group for any cause. Who can be more vulnerable than adults and children waiting at a bus stop to go to work or school! But Qatar’s Al Jazeera, in my view, has a particularly disgraceful way of reporting Palestinian terrorist attacks: when the culprit is killed at or fleeing the crime scene or even in a shootout, AJA will often headline the story as ‘Israel kills another Palestinian’, instead of highlighting the horrifying attack itself … and then the next day often bestows “hero” treatment on the perpetrator, covering the funeral of the terrorist, giving his name and which town he is from, and there are also interviews with grieving relatives; however the dead Israeli civilians (Jewish, Muslim or Christian) killed by the terrorist(s) apparently have no names, no funerals and no grieving family … because I never see those details on AJA! It is absolutely disgraceful “reporting” … but the real problem is that, funded heavily by the Qatar government, AJA propaganda reaches a HUGE worldwide audience, doing absolutely NOTHING to encourage peace, negotiations or an end to terrorist acts. h.o)

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