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FIFA WORLD CUP in Qatar and the Western moral discrepency

By Carlos Mundy

Qatar is organising what probably will be the best World Cup up to date but sadly, only with last-minute controversy. After an investment of over 200 billion USD and the construction of 11 great stadiums and other infrastructure, the much-anticipated opening ceremony took place on the 19th of November with last-minute, very much publicised cancellations of stars such as Shakira and Rod Stewart. The reason given behind these cancellations is due to the country's human rights record, explicitly regarding LGTB and women's rights.

Qatar has hosted hundreds of international and regional sporting events since being awarded the World Cup in 2010. There has never been an issue, and every event has been delivered safely. But news anchors worldwide and the press are attacking Qatar daily now, clouding what is being an exceptionally well-run World Cup. The hypocrisy of the first world in this attack on Qatar does not escape me. The State of Qatar is not a pariah state. It has invested billions in the West, and the West has import deals with the West worth billions. Qatar is also the 10th largest landowner in the United Kingdom.

Qatar is not a Western-style democracy, but neither Russia nor China. Russia organised the 2018 World Cup and was very repressive against LGTB rights. China organised the Summer Olympics in 2008 and the Winter Olympics in 2022. It is a country responsible for genocide against the Tibetans, with over 1.2 million killed since the invasion of their country. It has up to 2 million Muslim Uyghurs in the western Xinjiang region detained inside enormous re-education facilities. So, it seems that these lessons in morality are given when morality does not represent far reaching cost.

More than 160 human rights groups worldwide signed a letter calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reverse its decision to hold the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing allegations of widespread abuses by the Chinese government. Still, their pleas fell on deaf ears, and the Western world looked the other way, and nothing was mentioned in the press about the human rights situation in China. Why did the IOC not respect the Olympic Charter's core principles about 'human dignity?

It is a fact that there were accidents within the labour force that constructed the infrastructures in Qatar. Indeed, in China, the same thing happened with a big difference. Thanks to the World Cup, labour laws have improved exponentially in Qatar. Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) said the health, safety, and dignity of "all workers employed on our projects has remained steadfast," with "significant improvements" made around workers' rights.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino also told CNN Sport's Amanda Davies that he has seen "great evolution" in Qatar's labour reforms. The International Labour Organization has noted reforms like a non-discriminatory minimum wage that Qatar is the first in the region to adopt.

The LGBT community has restrained rights in 71 countries, and one of them is the State of Qatar. It is important to remember that from 1918 to 1968, the country was a British protectorate. It was not until the 27th of July 1967 that homosexuality was decriminalised in the United Kingdom as part of the Sexual Offences Act, and not until 2004 the LGTB community obtained true equality in terms of relationships. It is, therefore, hypocritical to judge Qatar from today's perspective of gender equality when he rode to equality in the Western World took many decades of hard struggle.

Qatar and its Arab neighbours have the right to their own ideology. Qatar has its own narrative, history, and the right to advance toward equality in these matters at its own pace. Public displays of affection, regardless of orientation, are frowned upon, so asking for respect for their culture should not become news.

Around 1.5 million soccer fans—approximately 100,000 American—from around the world are expected to converge in Qatar's capital of Doha to attend the tournament. The groups behind the "Boycott Qatar" movement should stop politicising the World Cup. All this controversy is more about who controls the narrative.

Time will tell what the legacy of this World Cup will be, but what is certain is that until the final on the 18th of December, we will be watching the sport of football at the highest level. Qatar can be proud of an exceptional organisation.

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