Over this international weekend, a number of nations players have worn T-Shirts to make an apparent statement about human rights abuses Qatar.
The Guardian recently revealed that more than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar since it won the right to host the World Cup 10 years ago.
In comparison, 2 people died in construction of stadia for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and there were 0 fatalities during the building of the 2012 London Olympics facilities.
Qatar are basically using slave labour to build their stadium. A lack of health and safety, lack of concern for workers well being. Workers being underpaid and exploited so that Qatar put on a show piece event.
It is a disgrace that Qatar won the bid to win the World Cup. But they are not the first country to use sport to improve its global reputation.
For years, countries with questionable human rights record have used sport in an attempt to reinvent themselves. It is called “sportswashing”.
From the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing through to Qatar 2022, sportswashing is becoming more common as authorities and clubs put aside their morals and values to sell their sport to the highest bidder.
Last year saw the world title heavyweight clash between anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz take place in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia’s relatively sudden interest in sports can be construed as a soft power tactic to help distract from the kingdom’s ongoing human rights abuses and the Yemen crisis.
The kingdom has hosted the Race of Champions (ROC) motorsport event, secured a long-term deal with the WWE that includes multiple shows a year, hosted boxing events headlined by stars like Amir Khan, hosted a PGA European Tour golf event.
Azerbaijan is another nation using sport as a distraction from what is actually happening in their country.
Despite human rights infringements, a lack of press freedom, a clear threat of terrorism and Azerbaijan being labelled as “not free”; the likes of UEFA, the IAAF and the FIA have all awarded Azerbaijan major events in recent years, including the recent Europa League final.
Wearing a T-Shirt in a qualifier is both too little and too late.
Nations should have been protesting 10 years ago when Qatar won the bid to host the World Cup.
Did the worlds footballing authorise really think the way Qatari’s (and other Arab Peninsula) way of building would suddenly change because they had a World Cup?
Thousand’s of exploited immigrant workers have died over the years across Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia in recent years as states attempt to build the biggest sky scrappers, the most expensive hotels, and attract Western money.
These states and countries are amongst the biggest human rights violators in the world. But the Western world mainly turn a blind eye as they holiday in the Middle East.
Event organisers take the millions (and even more in back handers) to take their World Cup, their Formula 1 race, their Athletics World Championship to these places, knowing full well thousands will die building the structures required to host their events.
What is happening in Qatar to Asian workers, in China to Ughir Muslims and in Myanmar to Rohingya Muslims should be headline news. Every single day. But it is larger ignored with more time spent on what is happening in America.
This is real persecution. It is real slavery. It is genocide. And it goes ignored.
Wearing a T-Shirt is simply not enough.
If those footballers wish to take a real stand, boycott the tournament.
Make it clear to FIFA that giving a global sporting event to Qatar was a disgrace and a death sentence to thousands.
Germany was one of the nations to wear a T-Shirt over the weekend. How about the German football team announce they boycott the World Cup? And then the Norwegian FA also pull out in support.
It will not be too long until England follow. And then France, Italy and Spain.
And then once the major nations have boycotted, sponsors would soon follow. A World Cup without European nations would be pointless.
And FIFA could not punish those countries. It needs Europe. That is where the money is in football.
A collective boycotting of Qatar 2022 would make a clear and obvious statement. Stop hosting these events in countries with horrendous human rights records.
And hopefully where football leads, athletics, F1 and more follow.
Lewis Hamilton does fantastic work highlighting the worlds issues. But that all goes to pot when he lines up with an Arab Prince to collect another winners trophy. Happy to take the glory whilst standing on a track which hundreds died to build.
F1 would change overnight if Hamilton, followed by other drivers, said “no, I do not want to race in Bahrain.
Sport can hugely influence the world. But we need its stars to back up their words with real actions.
Wearing a T-Shirt is not enough.
Boycott Qatar 2022.