FIFA May Regret a Qatar World Cup in the End

Tomas Sampson, Contributing Writer

Everyone knows the World Cup as the biggest stage in soccer. For the players, it’s a huge honor to represent their countries and play against the best countries that the world has to offer. Imagine walking out in front 50 thousand fans or more in the stadium and millions else worldwide who are watching on their televisions. What a feeling it must be with that electricity in the air and such a wild crowd, because we all know how soccer fans get. There has also been a standing tradition that every World Cup has been played in the summer and it will continue to be until 2022. The next World Cup takes place in 2018 in Russia, but when 2022 rolls around and the competition takes place in Qatar, things will be a little different. They say that change is “inevitable,” but will it be for the better or the worse?

Since the first World Cup in 1930, the elite global tournament has been played during the summer months of June and July with the occasional match taking place as early as May. Last week though, FIFA confirmed that the 2022 World Cup will be held in Qatar during the winter months of November and December. The final game is scheduled for December 18th, which also happens to coincide with Qatar’s National Day. The intense heat of the Qatari summer was considered too dangerous for the players to play in, meaning that the tournament will take place during the Qatari winter, hugely inconveniencing the world’s biggest domestic leagues. “The prospect of a winter World Cup is neither workable nor desirable for European domestic football,” stated an English Premier League (EPL) spokesman who made this remark ahead of the announcement.

There are other issues that made FIFA President Sepp Blatter admit that “It was a mistake,” to host the World Cup in Qatar. He elaborated, stating, “Of course, it was a mistake…The Qatar technical report indicated clearly that it is too hot in summer, but the executive committee with quite a big majority decided all the same that the tournament would be in Qatar.” The new change not only would affect the European domestic leagues but also the European competitions and tournaments. However Michel Platini, legendary French soccer player and UEFA President, stated to Press Association Sport, “Dec. 18 is a good date for the final—perhaps Dec. 23 would be too late if you are trying to get all the fans back by Christmas Eve.  Dec. 18 is fine for UEFA—we can accommodate any changes to the Champions League.”

However, the biggest issue is the rate at which migrant workers building the infrastructure to host the World Cup have been dying. According to The Guardian, Nepalese migrants have died at a rate of one every two days. Human rights organizations have accused Qatar of dragging its feet on reforms, saying that not enough is being done to investigate the effect of working long hours in temperatures that regularly top 50 degrees Celsius, or 122 degrees Fahrenheit. The Nepalese foreign employment promotion board said 157 of its workers in Qatar have died between January and mid-November of 2014 with 67 dying of sudden cardiac arrest and eight of heart attacks. 34 deaths were recorded as workplace accidents. Figures sourced separately by The Guardian from Nepalese authorities suggest the total during that period could be as high as 188. In 2013, the figure from January to mid-November was 168. “We know that people who work long hours in high temperatures are highly vulnerable to fatal heat strokes, so obviously these figures continue to cause alarm,” said Nicholas McGeehan, the Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. He continued, “It’s Qatar’s responsibility to determine if deaths are related to living and working conditions, but Qatar flatly rejected a DLA Piper recommendation to launch an immediate investigation into these deaths last year.” The government confirmed in the DLA Piper report that 964 workers from Nepal, India and Bangladesh had died while living and working in the Gulf state in 2012 and 2013.

There are many problems that are giving FIFA President Sepp Blatter and the board headaches. The changing of tradition, interference with the domestic leagues, interference with continental tournaments, and the staggering death rates of migrant workers working in dangerously high temperatures are some of the biggest problems. However, it will take the moving of mountains to change the location of the 2022 World Cup. The only thing left for the fans to do now is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the “Beautiful Game.”