We’re less than a week away from the opening ceremonies for the World Cup (which, by the way, still don’t have an announced performer, after being turned down by Rod Stewart, Dua Lipa, and now Shakira), and things in Doha are progressing just about as well as expected when you hold a World Cup in a country where companies held workers hostage to get their stadiums built. No less than Sepp Blatter, who is by all accounts a terrible human being and who was, as head of FIFA, instrumental in awarding the world’s biggest tournament to Qatar in 2010, is having second thoughts.
“It is too small of a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for it,” Blatter told a Swiss newspaper. Blatter also confirmed that, prior to 2012, FIFA didn’t give a toss about the human rights records of bidding nations. “Since then, social considerations and human rights are taken into account.” Super.
Just this morning, the New York Times published a sweeping exposè of what we already knew: That in order to dazzle the world with an oasis in the middle of the desert and those obnoxious “Come to Qatar!” ads that keep popping up, the country exploited thousands of migrant workers, thousands of whom lost their lives.
According to the Times:
“The work force is so large and drawn from so many places that its numbers seem impossible to count. It is a group so anonymous that, to this day, no one is able to agree on how many of its members died to get the World Cup across the finish line. Human rights organizations have put the death toll in the thousands. The official count by Qatari organizers — which they carefully limit to deaths on projects directly linked to the tournament — is 37, and only three if just workplace accidents are counted.”
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In addition, same-sex sex is illegal in Qatar, with a punishment of up to three years in prison for “sodomy.” Alcohol is prohibited (with the exception of beer being sold at designated fan fests, and unmarried sex is illegal, as is swearing. Sounds like it’s gonna be one hell of a party in 120-degree heat.
If that isn’t enough to make you believe that Qatar has no business hosting this event, World Cup organizers are also prohibiting foreign media from taking photographs. Of… anything, it seems.
And a Danish news team had a similar experience.
So, just to recap, Qatar invited the entire world to come to Doha for a sporting event, built massive stadiums, and decorated the town with slogans they created and approved, but the media is not allowed to visually document any of it.