For a sport so beloved around the world, the beginning of this year’s FIFA World Cup tournament is bringing nothing but controversy. A deal brokered twelve years ago amidst calls of scandal and bribery is still causing trouble now that the tournament has arrived. In addition to the unbearable temperature in Qatar, officials are still worried about corruption and bribery allegations, disrespect of the LQBTQ community, overworked soccer players, and a myriad of human rights abuses. This is certainly not a very cheery beginning to the world’s most watched sporting event that is the highlight for soccer fans around the globe every four years.
The Culmination of a Twelve Year Scandal
The World Cup is unfolding in Qatar this week amid a sea of controversy. A million fans are expected in the country of Qatar, with billions of other soccer fans watching from home. There are 64 games scheduled to be played, beginning on November 20 when Qatar plays Ecuador, and ending on December 18. But what is supposed to be a joyful and memorable time for soccer fans around the world, is turning out to be anything but. As a soccer fan, having watched this event as a young child, watching the World Cup has certainly shaped my memory and passion for the sport. It is truly a slap in the face how FIFA could and would do what they have done in bringing the World Cup to Qatar.
The backdrop of bribes and scandals that have allowed the biggest tournament to be played in Qatar, where human rights debacles abound, is a travesty of justice. In 2010, when soccer officials voted, the U.S., South Korea, Japan, and Australia were also vying to host the tournament. Even the former head of FIFA, who voted for it at the time, admits this is a terrible choice. “It was a bad choice. And I was responsible for that as president at the time,” said Sepp Blatter, whose term as FIFA administrator ended in 2015 amid a bribery scandal.
In fact, almost every single one of the 22 people who voted to hold the World Cup in Qatar were charged with corruption, with some people arrested, some banned from FIFA, and some kicked out of soccer for life. In 2019, French soccer great and former head of European soccer Michel Platini was arrested in an investigation into a $2MM payment relating to the World Cup vote for Qatar.
“There have been just so many allegations of corruption against the Qatari bid — of political machinations going on, in terms of government…