Boycotting the World Cup

Stick to the football, they say. Respect the culture, they say. Some people have no idea how or why a football fan would boycott the World Cup, football's biggest event. Especially for someone like me, who fell in love with football because of a World Cup tournament. But some things are more important than football. The corruption and prioritization of money over people or even football that FIFA has shown, from the awarding of this tournament, the change of schedule, all the way to the supporting of the suppression of basic human rights is absolutely horrifying. That a nation like Qatar thinks it is okay to abuse human beings and contribute to thousands of deaths, then invite the world into their country and enforce their religious beliefs upon them, going so far as to telling people what they can do or say or even wear is the opposite of what football and the World Cup are all about. These reasons and more are why I am boycotting this World Cup.

Some things are just more important than football

Since Qatar was very suspiciously awarded this World Cup back in 2010, allegations of bribery and corruption at FIFA have been met with arrests, bans, and more. Most recently, Sepp Blatter issued a statement taking "full responsibility" for the disastrous awarding of this tournament to one of the smallest host nations ever. Although just saying words are not actually taking responsibility, and thousands of dead migrant workers cannot get their lives back. He and Michel Platini were initially banned from football in 2015 for FIFA Code of Ethics violations, an initial eight year ban that was eventually reduced to six years. However, near the end of that ban, they were both slapped with an additional six years and eight months ban as well as a fine of a million Swiss francs, also for FIFA Code of Ethics violations pertaining to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

There was actually truth to the demonstration of throwing money at Sepp Blatter during a press conference

There was a point when all of the corruption was exposed and it became quite obvious that Qatar had not been assigned the World Cup fairly, and many called for a change of venue. The need to change the schedule to the winter rather than the summer because of the heat in Qatar would impact a greater majority of the players who participate in the World Cup, and thus, a greater number of clubs, leagues, and  governing football organizations as well. FIFA could have changed it, there were countries who had the infrastructure in place and could have put a tournament together quickly, but FIFA refused to make the change. I mean, they probably would have had to give back all of the money they had taken from Qatar when they gave them the World Cup, right?

Everyone saw this disaster coming, but FIFA just doubled down. As reports spread of abuse of migrant workers to build Qatar's stadium and even thousands of deaths, estimated to be at least 6,500 as of last year, FIFA continued to support the poor choice. Workers were unpaid for months at a time, not given time off, not allowed to see family or travel back home, and otherwise mistreated, often working in the extreme Qatari heat to build the stadiums necessary for this tournament. Other countries who had bid for the tournament already had stadiums. These people needlessly suffered, and many died. Because of FIFA. And Qatar. And football.

Giroud actually benefitted from an injury to Karim Benzema, whose World Cup dreams are over

By changing the schedule to winter from summer, the players who play in Europe and other leagues that play through the winter have had to endure condensed playing schedules, which has inevitably already led to a sharp increase in injuries, and the schedule will continue throughout the spring as well. Clubs, leagues, and governing football organizations have also sacrificed for this due to scheduling, but it is the players who are paying the highest price. These are human beings, whose health and playing careers have been impacted by an unnecessary schedule change. 

To make matters worse, FIFA has doubled down on Qatar's incredibly controversial discrimination of LGBTQIA+ people, the choice to not have beer available at all at any of the matches, and anyone protesting these or other rules. Qatar notoriously has a law against all homosexuality, which is considered a crime that is punishable by death by stoning, even if imprisonment is more common now. Likewise, women's rights are very subverted, as women are unable to speak out or even go out without their male "guardians." These basic human rights are in direct contrast with FIFA's policies of diversity and inclusion

Infantino has become desperately tone deaf to humanity

Just ahead of the tournament's kickoff, Infantino, current FIFA president, claimed that Europe is hypocritical with its "moral lessons" aimed at Qatar (while ignoring FIFA's own policies.) He claimed to understand what discrimination was because as a child, he had red hair and freckles, spoke poor German, and was Italian, as a son of migrant workers in Switzerland, and was bullied. Not an impoverished slave-like migrant worker's child whose parent was abused, unpaid, and risked death or potentially died building a football stadium. Because clearly, having red hair or not speaking German (things that he could change about himself) warrant a life of harassment, inferior rights, assault, or even the death penalty. Just shockingly tone deaf words from an organization that is already under fire for ruining such a beloved world event.

He flagrantly said that fans can survive without drinking beer for three hours, a "let them eat cake" type of statement directed at the very people who make FIFA and the host nation all of their money. Fans in Qatar are being told what they can and cannot wear, what they can and cannot bring into the stadiums or even into the country, and even told that who they are is "okay" as long as they do not disclose it in any way, despite it being punishable by death in this "host" nation. And no one is even talking about women's rights, or how horrific it must be to be a female fan traveling to a nation like this.

Kjaer planned to protest discrimination, but FIFA silenced all of the captains

It is not just the fans, either. Many football teams have protested about human rights violations in Qatar throughout qualification. Several teams had planned to have their captains wear special "One Love" armbands with rainbow colors on them to support LGBTQIA+ rights, and informed FIFA ahead of time, with no response. Until just days before kickoff, FIFA informed teams that captains wearing these armbands would receive yellow cards if they should wear those armbands, risking having them sent off if they incurred a yellow card during the match. Kjaer, Denmark's captain, spoke out about this ridiculous ruling. Meanwhile, Germany are suing FIFA, and demonstrated against the ruling by having their starting eleven photographed with their hands over their mouths, as if being silenced.

Germany demonstrates being silenced by FIFA

This brings me to Qatar, the nation who brought this scourge upon football and the world. They are not a footballing nation, as their pathetic display against Ecuador in the opening match of the tournament painfully revealed to the entire world. They knew they did not have the infrastructure to host a World Cup. They have had to house the teams in hotels in neighboring nations because they literally do not even have enough room for them. They are a nation of 4,468 square miles and 2.931 million people, compared to the 3,797,000 square miles and 331.9 million people of the United States, who would have been the most likely candidates to take over this World Cup, for example.

Fan accommodations in Qatar leave empty wallets and much to be desired

Their accommodations and infrastructure for fans are reportedly terrible and overpriced, and fans must follow very strict rules. There is no cohabitation of any kind anywhere for anyone who is homosexual, of course. Qatar are one of eight countries in the world in which being homosexual is illegal. They are also one of a diminishing number of countries where women are literally second-class citizens and have very few rights of their own. This is not history, this is current policy.

Qatar also did not have the work force to build the necessary stadiums and other infrastructure, yet has no problems with what they have done to migrant workers. They downplay all of the abuse and deaths as normal consequences, not acknowledging that these are human beings. They deny all wrong-doing, and claim the number of deaths is much lower than everyone else is reporting. 

Images from Senegal-Netherlands show plenty of empty seats.
Official attendance reported to be 41,721. Stadium capacity is 40,000.

Just like they claim that stadium attendance is literally higher than capacity, despite having so many seats visibly empty for these matches. Clearly, honesty is not part of their religion, culture, or rules, but enforcing all of their rigid beliefs on their guests definitely is. They demand respect without giving it, tell everyone what they cannot do, be, or wear while in their country or in their stadiums. This is not what the World Cup is all about. This is not what football is all about. This is not respect, it is suppression and violating basic human rights.

Imagine someone inviting you to their house, and telling you that it is okay to be who you are, even though they typically stone people like you to death, so please do not act like yourself in any way while you are there. And by the way, you have to change your shirt. And don't carry that flag in our house. No, you cannot drink what you usually drink or act how you normally act, you must respect our (religious) culture. Would you feel welcome? Would you stay? Would you ever go back? Even for football?

U.S. Journalist Grant Wahl was told he would have to change his shirt to enter the stadium

This is not a moral judgment on the history of Qatar, no country is perfect. No country has a perfect moral history. But no other country in World Cup history has placed so many restrictions on fans or players that they invited to their country. Restrictions that are based on religious teachings. They demand that people "respect" their culture, a culture which is so "offended" by certain people that their laws demand those people be stoned to death. Because of a religion. A religion that also preaches peace, love, and tolerance. 

Women are a sub-class of Qatari society. They are subjected to arranged marriages, must ask permission of their male guardians to do things, must dress in certain ways, and are physically abused for any infractions (domestic abuse is not criminal under Qatari law.) These practices are not even based on actual religious doctrine, but rather a level of cultural discrimination that has been perpetuated for centuries. Discrimination that has included "ownership" of women by men, as well as child brides, rape, and so much more. That women are even allowed to go to the stadium to watch football at all is considered "progress," and probably the reason that few are even talking about the lack of so many basic human rights for women in Qatar, or the risks to female fans who travel there. 

What it looks like to be a woman in Qatar

Because of Russia in 2018, which was incredibly controversial as a nation that was hostile toward the LGBTQIA+ community, FIFA were supposed to have established a minimum human rights standard for those who host tournaments. Instead, they have lowered the bar, apparently in the name of money. But the joke is on them. Fans like me are sick of it. Stadiums are nowhere near full, and plenty of people throughout the world are not tuning in.

The tournament has become a farce, anyway, with footballing powerhouses not even qualifying for the tournament in order to include global representation. Meaning teams that are "just happy to be here" get destroyed in the Group Stages, making for terrible football, while teams that would have made the entire tournament competitive are at home, watching on their screens.

No room for reigning Euro champions Italy at the World Cup, but we do get to watch Qatar play

That would not be so bad, the knockout rounds provide plenty of great football. But FIFA has turned the tournament into a shameful display of money over people and morality. Ignoring human rights and human life, not in the name of good football even, but in the name of the almighty dollar, is criminal. Allowing a country like Qatar to avoid any type of sanctions whatsoever for the abuse of migrant workers and the deaths of thousands is completely unconscionable. Letting them be so discriminatory toward fans is unethical. Supporting them and telling people to shut up about it is absolutely unbelievable.

Empty stadiums are the best way to honor those who died building them

As a human being, I cannot sign off on this. I refuse to support this tournament or its sponsors in any way. FIFA may have lowered its standards for the sake of money, and Qatar has violated basic human rights in ways that are shocking and shameful. But I will not support such corruption or horrific treatment of human beings. Not even for football. Not even for a tournament that is only held once every four years. 

Because no one deserves to die for football. No one should be treated as less than human. No one should fear for their life just to attend a match. And none of us should be supporting an organization or a country who promote these things. That is why I am boycotting the World Cup. 

This post inspired by the music of Dionne Warwick's "What the World Needs Now is Love"

Boycotting the World Cup Boycotting the World Cup Reviewed by Elaine on 11:59 PM Rating: 5
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