Saturday, 8 November 2014
I'm brought up with football – that is what North Americans call "soccer" – and I continue to enjoy watching games occasionally. In particular – as most fans of the sport – I immensely enjoy the World Cup play offs, taking place every forth year and assembling the very best players in a context packed with emotion and challenge. In sports, this event has almost the status and grandiosity of the Olympics – and, alas, is headed by an almost as obviously corrupt organisation, FIFA (read this and this) whose executive committee members and higher officers I'm sure all enjoy all sorts of pleasures as they choose which country is to arrange the next round. For the 2022 WC, FIFA, in all its wisdom and care for their executive committee members' bank accounts, choose one of the worlds most supremely wealthy countries – sure to be able to part with a few handsome installments – Qatar.
What FIFA has been caring rather less about, however, is how Qatar has gone about preparing for the games. True to its reputation of going for architectorial grandiosity, the Qatar organisers have ventured on constructing five spectacular new stadiums, dreams of material affluence to be seen here. Or, rather, these stadiums are being constructed by a huge herd of imported laborers, who have been repeatedly reported to persist and work under slave-like conditions (here, here, here, here), no matter how much Qatar officials have attempted to play innocent. This video documentary sums up some of the horrifying sides of this appalling affair:
Did I say "persist"? I'm so sorry! In April this year, under the heading of "Stop the carnage!", it was revealed by the Building and Wood Worker's International that at least 1380 immigrant construction workers have died since the preparations started in 2010, and "at the current rate, more than 4,000 migrant workers will die by the time Qatar puts on the 2022 World Cup", reports New Republic. Indeed, 4000! For a little bit of sports entertainment ...
FIFA, on its side of the fence has felt some of the pressure and made "demands" on Qatar to improve things, however, also making clear through its head Sepp Blatter – at the end of the video above – that the decision to award the game to Qatar is "irreversible". The latest effort on this matter is an impressive bowl of nothing, where FIFA on its webpages declares "We look forward to seeing the implementation of these concrete actions over the next months", with reference to announced coming labor law reforms in Qatar. Very handsome and sporty, as when the shit started to hit the fan in earnest in late November 2013, the demand was that "fair working conditions with a lasting effect must be introduced quickly". I'm sure the Qatar organisers as well as the FIFA executives all feel extrememly content with themselves as they glance at their latest balance sheets.
Anybody in for a little boycott? It's all very easy – just turn off or redirect your telly/computer/pad/phone in a few weeks in 2022, and the calculated add revenues will disappear into thin air. Even some pretty great players talk openly about it, so why not us regular audience people? Here's one Facebook page trying to assemble support for this cause and here's another.