One year after the Qatar World Cup
The future of football is becoming increasingly bleak
November 20, 2023, 5:06 p.m
The most controversial World Cup in history begins on November 20, 2022. It ends with triumph for the Argentines and the appropriation of the sport by the desert state and its most powerful representative. A year after the finals in Qatar, the criticism has not stopped.
The ostentatious stadiums are fenced in in the desert, the sand blows across the parking lots, and there is an eerie silence. One year after the start of the World Cup, the eight arenas are like memorials to remind us of everything that went wrong around the most controversial final tournament in history in Qatar. But the future looks even bleaker.
“FIFA is heading into the next human rights disaster,” said Germany director Wenzel Michalski of Human Rights Watch (HRW) to the sports information service, referring to the almost certain awarding of the 2034 World Cup by the world association to Qatar’s big neighbor Saudi Arabia: “That is “It’s a mockery. Anyone who believed that FIFA was serious about this and was a serious organization must now feel like they’ve been taken for a ride. Saudi Arabia is worse than Qatar in many respects.”
Qatar uses Messi as an instrument
Large parts of the world were already embarrassed on December 18, 2022. When Qatar’s Emir gave Argentine World Cup captain Lionel Messi the traditional men’s robe after the final of the 22nd final round, the appropriation of football by a state was perfect. The spectacle, which cost Qatar over 200 billion euros, was garnished by Gianni Infantino. The FIFA boss certified that the host had hosted the “best World Cup in history”.
Human rights organizations such as HRW and Amnesty International (AI) see things very differently a year later. Human rights violations are still the order of the day and promised labor law reforms have largely not been implemented. “The World Cup was a catastrophe for football, for the players, for the fans and for the guest workers,” said HRW director Minky Worden: “It is a terrible stain in the history of FIFA.”
But, according to Worden, the world governing body has “not learned its lesson”: “The possibility that FIFA will award Saudi Arabia the 2034 World Cup, despite the country having an appalling human rights record and a lack of control, exposes FIFA’s human rights obligations Eyewash.” According to the British “Times”, the world association is currently negotiating a sponsorship deal worth millions with the Saudi oil giant Aramco.
“Football turns itself into a stooge”
The German Football Association (DFB), whose selection in Qatar failed disastrously in the preliminary round for the second time in a row, is also pilloried. After the fiasco in the “binding debate”, President Bernd Neuendorf has to put up with severe criticism again. Before the DFB boss took office on the FIFA Council in April, he called for more transparency in decisions – and as part of the system he was unable to ensure this.
“The values that FIFA and subordinate associations give themselves are not worth the paper on which they were written. The behavior is really shameful,” said Michalski: “Football is making itself a stooge.” According to Michalski, even the largest individual sports association in the world is very small. “Whenever you ask, they always just say: We don’t have that much influence, and it doesn’t bother many others – what should we do? That’s a convenient excuse,” said the director: “The DFB betrays his own values, the values of sport.” The association must “start rolling up its sleeves and putting pressure on FIFA”: “That’s what they have to do, but I don’t see them doing it.”
This must also be stated looking back at the 2022 World Cup. Neuendorf had always supported the demand for a compensation fund worth around 400 million euros for injured or killed workers. The DFB boss was also in favor of setting up a contact center for migrant workers. He saw the Qatari government and FIFA as having a duty. It is unknown whether and how Neuendorf will fight for this as a FIFA official. In the end, the title with which ARD titled its documentary applies to the finals in Qatar: “World Cup of Shame”. Incidentally, the so-called container stadium was also visible, which, contrary to the vaunted sustainability strategy, has still not been dismantled – and stands as a memorial in the desert.