Will FIFA Move The 2022 World Cup Out Of Qatar?
Will FIFA wake up and move the 2022 World Cup out of Qatar?
Last week, Sports Illustrated and HBO’s Real Sports ran stories describing the inhumane treatment of migrant construction workers in Qatar, the people who are building new infrastructure and state-of-the-art soccer stadiums for the World Cup in 2022.
The details are repulsive: migrant workers are unable to quit or leave the country, they cook in bug-infested kitchens and one of them will die almost every day between now and 2022 because of extreme heat, dehydration and unsafe working conditions. Human rights activist Husain Abdulla told Real Sports that more than 4,000 migrant workers will die while building infrastructure and stadiums for the 2022 World Cup.
FIFA’s investigation into possible ethics violations during the bidding process is expected to be completed in September and the U.S. has reportedly been told to be ready to go if the event needs to be removed from Qatar.
But withdrawal seems unlikely: plans are already in motion, construction is underway and, most importantly, public outrage isn’t hitting the Donald Sterling line, the point where large organizations have no choice but to act or collapse under a tidal wave of popular fervor.
The World Cup shouldn’t be held in Qatar regardless of how FIFA’s corruption investigation plays out. The event is a global celebration of sport, the pinnacle of athletic competition, mankind at its ultimate best. The conditions under which the World Cup will come to fruition in Qatar represents mankind in its lowest form.
The sports world has produced a number of stories that have made our stomachs churn over the last year — Donald Sterling’s racist rant, Richie Incognito’s deplorable hazing of Jonathan Martin and the 49ers decision to allow Aldon Smith to play less than 48 hours after his arrest for DUI — but these acts are parking violations compared to what we’re seeing in Qatar.
If we learned anything from the Sterling incident, it’s that large organizations — like the NBA and FIFA — are capable of doing the right thing when confronted with tremendous pressure.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is getting extraordinary reviews for his decision to hand Sterling a lifetime ban from NBA activities. In reality, though, he hit a meatball off a tee. Sure, he knocked it out the park, but players and fans did all of the leg work.
Silver laid the hammer down because he was left without choice. His players created a swell on social media, they were planning boycotts and major sponsors were walking away from the Los Angeles Clippers. If he would have let Sterling off the hook, the Clippers wouldn’t have had enough players to field a team in November.
But will soccer’s biggest superstars sit out the World Cup if it’s held in Qatar? Will sponsors, like Adidas and Visa, walk away from the cash register? Will countries, like Brazil, Germany and the United States, refuse to take the pitch if stadium construction produces more deaths than 9-11?
Sterling received the ax because his words were hateful and they offended powerful, influential people. When Magic Johnson, LeBron James and Chris Paul speak, the world listens. A migrant worker’s death in the desert heat goes unnoticed.
And the show goes on.