The World Cup, which is being held in Qatar for the first time, began on Nov. 20 and has been fraught with controversy from the beginning.
Starting with the selection process in 2010, it has been said that FIFA took over one million dollars in bribes to vote for Qatar to be the host of this year’s World Cup.
Additionally, during the decade before the 2022 World Cup began, “hundreds, if not thousands, of workers died during the construction [of the stadium],” said Kurt Streeter of the New York Times.
Furthermore, almost all these workers were migrants from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Knowing these facts puts a sour taste in the mouths of those that usually enjoy watching the World Cup.
“It definitely has to tug at you while watching,” said Ethan Vollstedt (’24). “Knowing that in this day and age with everything we have at our expense in terms of practicing safe construction there is no excuse for this. Frankly, I feel it is an embarrassment to the sport which breaks my heart,” said Vollstedt.
Though there are many faults, FIFA is trying to rectify this mistake. “It is good to see that FIFA is working to compensate the families who lost loved ones in Qatar,” said Joe Rawlin (’23).
And while compensation is a good start to helping these families recover, it in no way replaces the devastation of losing one of their family members.
When it came to the start of the tournament, Qatar lost in the first round to Senegal, making them the quickest host country to have been eliminated in the 92-year history of the World Cup.
However, with Qatar being a country that is not necessarily known for soccer, and with the team facing some tough opponents, it is unsurprising that Qatar lost this early.
“Qatar’s team is very bad in comparison to the other teams, and I personally believe that they had bad karma coming their way considering they bribed many FIFA members to give them the bid to host this world cup,” said Antonia Avila (’24).
“This, combined with the multiple human rights violations, led Qatar to have a lot of bad energy going into the World Cup, and I think this is a fair result for them,” said Avila.
Furthermore, just a week after the tournament started, riots broke out in Brussels after Belgium’s team was upset by Morocco. Sadly, these kinds of reactions seem to be not entirely uncommon when such upsets happen in soccer.
While it is good to be passionate about something you love to watch or participate in, this kind of response may be taking it too far.
“There is nothing wrong with being emotional and disappointed after a loss but dealing with it in that way is senseless and should be met with firm consequences,” said Rawlin.
“I wouldn’t say rioting is the smartest way to display your emotions, but for some people that’s their go-to, unfortunately,” said Vollstedt. Of course, rioting is not practiced by all soccer fans, but when it is practiced, it reflects poorly on the whole community.
It is not exactly clear which side may have started or participated in the riots, or whether both sides did, but it is upsetting to think about either way. “I would be terribly disappointed if it were the Belgian fans who were unhappy about losing,” said Nicholas Dixon, professor of philosophy.
Additionally, “I don’t know what the facts are, but I do know that sometimes you can get an immigrant community that is not treated that well within a country [who then] can sometimes [develop] very negative feelings about that country. And so, I could just about see how, if it were the Moroccan fans [that started the riots] … how that could be a motivating factor,” said Dixon.
Regarding The U.S. participation in the tournament, the men’s soccer team played on Dec. 3 against the Netherlands’ team. It was a close game ending with a score of 3 to 1 in favor of the Netherlands.
Of course, not all World Cups are this contentious, and there are even some positives such as the U.S. men’s soccer team speaking up for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights. Hopefully, we will still be able to enjoy the sport even after all of the controversy.