Over the next few weeks the FIFA world cup will be played in Qatar. Qatar was awarded the bid back in 2010 when there were rumors of alleged bribery. As it turns out there was some truth to those allegations. Sepp Blatter, the former head of FIFA, resigned in 2015 after being investigated for bribery and racketeering by the United States and Sweden.
Blatter and 14 other people, 9 of whom were high level FIFA execs, conspired in a $150 million dollar scheme to enrich themselves. FIFA took bribes from South Africa, Russia, and Qatar. Not only did they take money from these countries, they sold their votes, invalidating the bidding process for the world cup. Blatter and another official also stole $80 million from FIFA to enrich themselves.
When FIFA took bribery money from Qatar, FIFA officials were fully aware of the human rights abuses in Qatar. FIFA also knew that Qatar severely lacked the infrastructure required to host the world cup. Over the past decade the world has been silent as Qatar forced modern day slaves to build new cities and stadiums for the world cup.
Qatar was spending $500 million per week on infrastructure for the tournament in 2017. In total is estimated to have spent $220 billion dollars on hosting the world cup. Qatar is a small country in the Middle East with an authoritarian regime that rules its people with an iron fist. Ironically and unsurprisingly, the games played to bring the world together are played in a country full of human rights abuses.
Qatar proved these strict social rules by banning beer and alcohol at the World Cup stadiums. While Budweiser has a massive contract worth $75 million with FIFA, it was only informed of the ban hours before kickoff. In Qatar it is illegal to drink alcohol in public due to religious laws. It appears as though Qatar is only concerned with the appearance of their Islamic law. While this ban affects the thousands who have traveled to enjoy the games, it has no effect on the rich. Alcohol is banned for the common man, but if you’re in one of the luxury suites at the stadium, you can drink as much alcohol as you wish. If you have a big enough bank account the religious rules don’t apply. You’re able to drink alcohol in a dry nation while poorer spectators spend thousands of dollars to sleep in tents.
Since FIFA granted the world cup to Qatar, 6,500 workers have died. The real figure could be much higher as many of these deaths are attributed to “natural causes.” Temperatures regularly exceed hundreds of degrees in Qatar, which was deemed too hot for the athletes to compete. The world cup is typically played in the summer, not during the fall and winter months. While it’s too hot for the athletes to play, apparently it’s just fine for the workers to build the stadiums for hours on end.
Many of these migrant workers are stuck in a system of modern slavery. They’re too poor to leave and oftentimes are not allowed to switch jobs due to the Kafala System, which ties workers to their employers. Many of these migrant workers are living in horrific conditions with hundreds of men forced to share housing with up to 30 men per room.
FIFA knew what the conditions were and would be for workers in Qatar. FIFA knew the government of Qatar is authoritarian in nature and would harass people visiting the country for the tournament. FIFA was fully aware that the Kafala System would be supplying Qatar with enslaved migrant workers to build the infrastructure. FIFA officials took bribes from Qatar to enrich themselves knowing that the country wasn’t prepared to host. While watching the tournament, remember the thousands of lives lost to building the stadiums, the lives ruined by the kafala system, and the hypocrisy of FIFA and the Qatari Government.