World Cup: FIFA Says to 'Focus on Football'

In a letter to all 32 teams due to compete at the World Cup in Qatar beginning Nov. 20, FIFA — the world soccer governing body — told them to "now focus on football," as the host country faces criticism for its human rights record.

World Cup: FIFA Says to 'Focus on Football'
Image credit: Fauzan Saari / Unsplash

Facts

  • In a letter to all 32 teams due to compete at the World Cup in Qatar beginning Nov. 20, FIFA — the world soccer governing body — told them to "now focus on football," as the host country faces criticism for its human rights record.
  • FIFA Pres. Gianni Infantino and Sec.-General Fatma Samoura asked for the sport not to be "dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists," as some teams have protested Qatar's alleged treatment of LGBTQ+ people and migrant workers who constructed World Cup facilities.
  • The letter doesn't address a request by eight European nations for their captains to wear "One Love" multicolored armbands at the World Cup, with both England and Wales already stating that they would defy any ban by the agency.
  • Amnesty International's Head of Economic and Social Justice stated that FIFA should "finally start tackling the serious human rights issues rather than brushing them under the carpet" and compensate migrant workers in Qatar $440M USD — matching the World Cup prize money.
  • Other teams have also engaged in protest, with Australia participating in a video condemning Qatar, Denmark wearing black jerseys to mourn migrant deaths, and the US backing calls for the compensation fund.
  • World Cup organizers have said that all are welcome, no matter their sexual orientation or background, though also warn against public displays of affection.

Sources: BBC News, Al Jazeera, Sky, Reuters, and Euro.

Narratives

  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by CNN. With billions of people around the world about to tune in to the World Cup, we should call out Qatar's hosting of the event for what it really is. With LGBTQ+ people treated like criminals and labor practices being compared to modern slavery, Qatar's winning bid to host the event was not from merit but rather corruption. The entire global community has a responsibility to criticize the event to save the integrity of the sport.
  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Doha. The mostly Western-centric critique of the World Cup is an unfair smear campaign. Qatar has already disbursed $350M to workers last year alone and has doubled up on efforts to protect employees. While soccer fans are likely to be exploring Qatar for the first time, they should know that its people are very welcoming. As this year is the first World Cup hosted by an Arab nation, respect for differing cultures is a must.