The 7 controversies surrounding Qatar during the 2022 World Cup

(CNN Spanish) — The choice of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup has generated a series of controversies since its inception.

This is a look at the top seven.

1 – The process of choosing Qatar as the venue

The choice of Qatar to host the World Cup in December 2010 has been surrounded by controversy. A 2014 investigation by the English newspaper Sunday Times claimed that the Arab country paid more than US$5 million in bribes to secure support for his candidacy.

The Qatar 2022 Bid Committee denied the allegations at the time. “We vehemently deny all allegations of wrongdoing. We will take all necessary steps to uphold the integrity of Qatar’s bid and our lawyers are studying this matter,” it said in the statement.

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In 2018 the Sunday Times published another investigation, this time accusing Qatar of running an operation to disseminate negative propaganda about its two main rivals in the bid for the venue, the United States and Australia.

Qatar responded at the time by saying that it rejected “each and every allegation made by The Sunday Times”.

Since then, both the US Department of Justice and the French Prosecutor’s Office have investigated these allegations.

2- The weather and the change of date

The Sunday Times accusation, based on emails detailing the alleged payments, gained momentum as Qatar was considered a “high risk” venue according to FIFA’s own reports, given the intense heat, with temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Celsius. .

The situation resulted in the championship being moved to November, to an exceptional extent.

3 – The conditions of migrant workers

Like other Persian Gulf monarchies, Qatar has made extensive use of migrant labor in recent decades, and especially for the construction of soccer stadiums for use in the World Cup.

The country came under global scrutiny after thousands of deaths were reported among migrant workers, who often come from some of the world’s poorest countries to do dangerous jobs, in extreme heat and for low wages.

According to the British newspaper The Guardian, the figure could rise to 6,500 workers killed since 2010, when Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup.

CNN has been unable to verify this figure, and the Qatari government has categorically denied the allegation.

“This is something that needs to be made absolutely clear. Absolutely clear. The number of fatalities in World Cup stadiums that are work related are three fatalities. There are just over 30 fatalities that are not related to the work,” Nasser al Khatel, chief executive of the committee organizing the World Cup in Qatar, told CNN.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) assured that there are gaps in the data collection by Qatar’s institutions, and stated that in 2020 alone, 50 workers would have died after suffering fatal occupational injuries. According to the report, 37,600 workers suffered mild to moderate injuries in 2020.

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The Qatari Ministry of Labor said in a statement that “figures reported in the media on deaths of migrant workers have been grossly misleading.”

But under scrutiny, Qatar has in recent years made reforms to the labor regime for migrants: it established a minimum wage of US$275 a month and allowed employees to change jobs without permission from their employers (something impossible with the system). formerly known as Kafala).

4 – The suspension of Russia

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, nine months before the start of the World Cup, starting a war that continues to this day.

In response, FIFA and UEFA announced on February 28 that all Russian soccer teams, whether national or club, were suspended from competitions of both soccer organizations “until further notice.”

“Following the initial decisions taken by the FIFA Council and the UEFA Executive Committee, which provided for the adoption of additional measures, FIFA and UEFA have today jointly decided that all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or teams of clubs, will be suspended from their participation in FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice,” they said in a statement.

Russia later appealed this decision, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the suspension, leaving the country out of the 2022 World Cup.

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When the decision was made, Russia had not yet qualified for the World Cup and had to play a qualifying match against Poland, but it was finally cancelled.

This is a highly unusual measure for FIFA and one that has generated controversy: the organization did not suspend the United States after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, nor Saudi Arabia after the start of its military operations in Yemen in 2015, to name just two. examples.

5 – The situation of the LGBTQ collective

Qatar is one of the 70 countries in the world where sexual relations between people of the same gender are criminalized, according to Amnesty International.

In the country, penalties of up to seven years in prison are applied for violation of articles 285 and 296 of the penal code, referring to these relationships.

According to Human Rights Watch, there are reports of members of the LGBTQ community being arrested for their online activity, and the government regularly censors content related to gender identity and sexual orientation.

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In preparation for the World Cup, the Qatari government has said it will “tolerantly” accept tourists from the LGBTQ community and will not restrict their expression. But there are questions about how Qatari citizens will be treated at the same time.

6 – Women’s rights

Women in Qatar, as in other Gulf countries where Islam is the official religion, face extensive discrimination based both in law and in practice, according to Amnesty International.

Under the male guardianship system, women remain subservient to their guardians (father, husband, brother, etc.) and must ask their permission for important decisions such as getting married, studying or working.

Also, to access reproductive health treatments and basic gynecological controls such as Papanicolaou tests.

It is also more difficult for women to get divorced, and even more difficult to obtain custody of children after a divorce.

The male guardianship system even conflicts with the Qatari constitution, according to Human Rights Watch, but it continues to govern relations between spouses in the country.

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7 – The accusations against Qatar for supporting terrorism

In 2017 a group of Persian Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, broke diplomatic relations with Qatar, which they accused of supporting terrorism.

Qatar indicated at the time that the accusations were “unjustified” and that it played clear roles in the fight against terrorism, but the crisis raised tensions in the region.

Three and a half years later, in January 2021, Qatar and the Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia — the list is completed by Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Egypt — agreed to restore diplomatic relations. Little is known about the content of the agreement.

Despite the reestablishment of relations, it was not the first time that Qatar has been accused of maintaining links with terrorist groups, but it was the most important crisis caused by this fact.

Qatar’s critics have pointed out even before the diplomatic crisis that the country financed the Palestinian National Authority and maintained relations with the Hamas group, armed the Libyan rebels who rose up against Moammar Gahdafi in 2011, pushed for sanctions against the government of Syria in the context of the civil war, and maintains an open dialogue, unlike its neighbors, with Iran.