Qatar world cup 2022 boycott

Explained: This is why so many people are boycotting this year’s World Cup in Qatar

The FIFA Qatari World Cup ambassador recently described homosexuality as ‘damage in the mind’


The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is a big football scandal considering how many people are wanting to boycott it this year, and this is why. The tournament has been built on corruption, human rights debate and abuse and the death of at least 6,500 workers. Football is a sport which claims to be all-inclusive but that’s clearly not the case given the backlash to this year’s tournament in Qatar. Here’s a rundown of the reasons why some football fans are considering boycotting this year’s event.

Why are fans wanting to boycott the World Cup 2022 in Qatar?

Corruption allegations

Qatar won the bid for the 2022 Men’s World Cup over the USA by 14 votes to eight. But given the country’s strict laws, questionable human rights record and high temperatures, there were immediate corruption concerns over the decision and how Qatar won. FIFA commissioned its own investigation into Qatar’s methods which concluded “no evidence of any improper activity by the bid team.”

Working conditions in Qatar

On top of corruption allegations, FIFA also reportedly looked into how the extreme heat in Qatar would affect the tournament and fans. Usually the world cup happens in the summer but this would have meant playing in temperatures up to 43 degrees. In 2015, FIFA announced the tournament would run from November to December which means temperatures would be much cooler. It also means the tournament will be shorter than usual, 29 days long instead of the typical 32. Plus the newly-built stadiums would have special cooling technology.

The decision to move the tournament to winter was controversial amongst European teams with their leagues threatening to sue over match clashes.

It was reported over 6,500 workers died building the stadiums

Earlier this year, The Guardian reported that more than 6,500 workers had died, almost all on the building programme for 2022. Workers were forced to work long hours in dangerous heat with little to no protective equipment.

Seven of the right stadiums being used for the tournament have been built from scratch, with the eighth going under renovation. The population of under three million meant most people involved in construction have been workers from abroad. Qatar’s Kafala system is a set of labour laws which allow individuals or businesses to confiscate workers’ passports and stop them leaving the country. Human rights groups say this has given developers free reign to exploit them – exposing their workers to horrible work conditions and little pay on top of not allowing them to go home until the projects are complete.

Among the main causes of death are road accidents, falls from tall structures, exposure to mechanical forces and self-harm. The Sunday Times also reported Nepali migrant workers developing long-term kidney disease or dying from the effects of heat exhaustion.

LGBTQ+ rights

Qatar’s Sharia law means it’s not a safe place to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or queer. Under Qatari laws, same-sex relationships are criminalised, and trans people are forced to undergo conversion therapy sponsored by the government. Many LGBTQ+ people suffer imprisonment and violence for being themselves and in some cases they even face being stoned to death.

A recent report by Human Rights Watch found that LGBTQ+ Qataris were being arbitrarily arrested for their sexuality and gender as recently as September 2022. It claimed some people had been locked in underground prisons and subjected to verbal and physical abuse. Transgender people said they had been forced into conversion therapy.

On 8th November this year, Kahlid Salman, a 2022 FIFA Qatar World Cup ambassador described homosexuality and “damage in the mind” during an interview with a German TV channel. He also remarked that being gay is “garam” which is Arabic for “forbidden.”

Treatment of women

Also under the Sharia law, women in Qatar are restricted and required to obtain permission or be accompanied by a dedicated male guardian, their father, brother or husband when getting married, studying, working in government jobs, travelling abroad and receiving some kinds of reproductive healthcare.

Within a marriage, a woman can be deemed “disobedient” for not submitting to her husband’s demands. Foreign nationals must have a similar style male guardian to obtain visas and they need their permission to obtain a driver’s licence and work in the country. Women in Qatar are expected to dress modestly, with shoulders and legs covered and can be asked to leave premises if not.

Players will be given a yellow card for wearing OneLove armband

In the last 24 hours, Fifa threatened sanctions if players wear the OneLove armband. Both Harry Kane, England captain and Gareth Bale, Wales Captain were hit with the threat.

Five other European countries amongst England and Wales have confirmed they will not wear the armband after Fifa made clear they would face sporting sanctions and that their captains could be forced off the pitch. A joint statement from the seven teams said: “Fifa has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play. As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in Fifa World Cup games.

“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play. We are very frustrated by the Fifa decision which we believe is unprecedented – we wrote to Fifa in September informing them of our wish to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response. Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways.”

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Feature image before edits by Jannik Skorna on Unsplash.