The Guardian’s take on the World Cup in Qatar: gestures alone are insufficient

The World Cup in Qatar, which its organizers have resorted to calling a competition “like no other,” will begin in fewer than 50 days. The PR hoopla is actually legitimate this time, and not just because the games will take place in the winter rather than the summer. The decision to hold the world’s largest athletic event in a nation with a historically bad human rights record is causing rival nations enormous unease.

The Danish football federation announced a straightforward all-black third outfit for the competition last week in collaboration with the uniform maker Hummel. According to Hummel, it was created in honor of the numerous migrant laborers who lost their lives while working on building projects in the years before the finals. Some European team leaders, like Harry Kane of England, want to don rainbow “One Love” armbands as a sign of defiance against prejudice in a nation where gay actions are prohibited.

FIFA World Cup Gestures

A gay supporter was given permission by the German federation to utilize a gathering to speak to the Qatari ambassador on LGBT rights. According to reports, Abdulla bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani said that the competition was being distracted by human rights problems. Of course, it is a good thing if this is the case. Companies like Hummel making visible gestures are much preferable to doing nothing at all.

However, there isn’t much time left to take the type of action that may leave a constructive legacy from a World Cup that shouldn’t have been given to these hosts in the first place. A tournament in the Middle East is good in theory because football is a global sport, however, this is not the appropriate method.

Authorities in Qatar assert, with the justification that they have done so in response to demands to change the cruelly exploitative conditions that exist for migrant workers. For instance, the despised kafala system, which bound a worker to a single employer, has been abolished, and efforts have been made to recompense unpaid wages and enact minimum wage.

Qatar is Organising FIFA World Cup 2022

However, the most recent in a series of Guardian investigations, released last month, concluded that abusive practices remained widespread on the ground despite high-level initiatives and pledges. At the Al Bayt stadium, where England will face the United States on November 25, migrant laborers were required to pay enormous illegal recruitment fees and lived for months in poor, congested housing while making £1 per hour. Workers there described working 12-hour hours for six days a week without receiving the necessary overtime compensation.

Many were prevented from speaking out about conditions by a culture of fear. Before the World Cup, migrant employees who have gone home allege they were terminated early or denied what they claim they were entitled to. A recent YouGov survey, commissioned by Amnesty International, revealed strong support for a fund to compensate abused migrant workers and the families of those who have passed away.

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