Qatar’s ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, has hit out at the public backlash his country has received since they were announced as hosts of the 2022 World Cup.
For several reasons, a peculiar World Cup lies ahead in November. The most obvious being the fact that this will be the first ever edition of the World Cup to be held during winter and not in the summer (June-July) as usual. Due to the heating temperatures in Qatar at that time of the year, FIFA decided to take the unusual decision to play the competition at an equally ‘unusual’ time.
Many fans and even players have hit out at that decision but another key reason why this World Cup is facing criticism is the choice of the host nation.
Qatar was picked over several sides and many are not fine with a country that has well-documented human rights issues, Islamic laws and apparent mistreatment on LGBTQ and women’s rights.
Less than a month away from the opening fixture, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani gave a rare public speaking, where he touched down on the country’s frustration, especially over years of attack from the West over certain religious and social issues.
“Since we won the honour of hosting the World Cup, Qatar has been subjected to an unprecedented campaign that no host country has faced,” the emir told Qatar’s legislative council.
Qatar initially accepted negative commentary “in good faith” and “even considered that some criticism was positive and useful, helping us to develop aspects that need to be developed,” the ruler said.
“But it soon became clear to us that the campaign continues, expands and includes fabrications and double standards, until it reached an amount of ferocity that made many wonder, unfortunately, about the real reasons and motives behind this campaign,” he said.
Fifa awarded the World Cup to an Arab country for the first time in 2010. It has since spent tens of billions of dollars on preparations but has faced intense scrutiny over human rights.
LGBTQ rights and Human Rights
It is important to note that homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and critics say women’s rights are restricted by male guardianship laws.
Also, tons of foregin workers were involved in building stadiums across the cities and a documentary once revealed the terrible working-conditions faced by these workers, including the fact that some of them died while on the job.
Many also believe that Qatar are using the avenue of the World Cup as a major means of sportswashing to try and project the nation in a more positive light.
It remains to be seen whether the first edition of the World Cup in the middle east will be a success but there remains a moral question on FIFA’s choice of host nation for the 2022 tournament.