The Qatar World Cup security issues are a constant topic of discussion in the football world. Social media offers millions of people ways to discuss and learn about how a World Cup is going in the desert country. All of the changes and accommodations for the Qatar World Cup are firsts for the world’s biggest sporting event. Often they raise more questions than excitement.
Historically, the World Cup takes place during the summer. However, due to Qatar’s topography amid the desert heat, FIFA pushed back the quadrennial event to the fall. Even then, forecasts place the average temperature in the 85° Fahrenheit (29° Celsius) range between November 21 and December 18.
Seven of the stadiums are outdoor venues. The only exception is Al Bayt Stadium, which uses a retractable roof. These newly constructed sites have emphasized green design and energy efficient ventilation. Each of the stadiums is easily accessible by car from each other. Lusail Stadium, 22 km north of Doha, hosts the final and is the most central venue in the country. The 80,000 capacity Lusail stadium hosts the World Cup final on 18 December.
Working conditions in preparation
The heart of Qatar’s World Cup security concerns stems from the 2 million blue-collar workers building infrastructure in appalling conditions. More than 6,000 migrant workers died during construction. The Qatari government said “the death rate among these communities is within the expected range.” This puzzling quote suggests that activists should settle for such tragic consequences. Yet Qatari officials berate workers who complain and live in inhospitable conditions.
According to Amnesty International, the workers were “exposed to forced labour”. However, a reform process is underway which supposedly alleviates the abuses suffered by migrant workers.
In addition, the workers worked overtime when the demands of their organization required it. However, employers do not properly compensate workers for their time. Amnesty has further examined FIFA. The organization claimed football’s world governing body should take “responsibility both to prevent abuses and to remedy those that have occurred as a result of their World Cup-related business operations”.
Despite FIFA’s warnings in Qatar, it is still up to the organizing committees to enforce the reformed regulations on employers.
World Cup security concerns in Qatar
On March 25, 2021, Germany sent a message during a pre-match photo opportunity ahead of a qualifying game against Iceland. German players spelled “human rights” on their black shirts.
In the aftermath, Norwegian and Dutch players practiced similar protests. Moreover, on February 26, 2022, Bundesliga fans launched a “Boycott Qatar 2022” during a match between Freiburg and Hertha Berlin.
Roberto Martinez is the head coach of Belgium, who qualified for the World Cup for the third consecutive tournament in 2022. He offered a different approach.
“Going to Qatar is a unique opportunity to bring the eyes of the world to all the aspects that they are wrong in society.”
In other words, Coach Martinez predicts that the most important sporting event shines a light on the issues. The billions of World Cup viewers could learn more about the unprecedented controversy.
On the contrary, the World Cup earns Qatar billions of dollars from viewership, advertisements, tourism and hospitality. This is regardless of working conditions or discrimination against women and the LGBTQ community.
The organizing committee in Qatar said “conditions for low-wage migrant workers have improved”. According to FARE, a network monitoring discrimination during matches, the Qatari government is implementing bogus excuses to disguise conservative mandates. Qatar’s flawed reasoning resulted in global scrutiny leading to the World Cup.
Qatar is a small nation with semi-fundamentalist decrees. For example, alcoholic beverages will be permitted in designated areas throughout the World Cup. However, drinking alcohol in public is punishable by imprisonment. Therefore, many tourists may exercise caution before obtaining tickets and making travel arrangements. Moreover, skin unveiling is a sensitive subject in this small Persian Gulf country. If a tourist taking a tour in Qatar reveals shoulders or thighs, he can be arrested and punished.
LGBTQ fans have qualms about traveling to Qatar for all 64 games. Same-sex relationships in a conservative country like Qatar are considered illicit behavior. The chairman of the Qatar National Committee, General Al Ansari, has raised eyebrows among LGBTQ activists. He said Qatari officials may remove rainbow flags, a symbol of the LGBTQ community, to protect the fan.
“Someone else around him might attack him.” An interesting court order to make. Especially since FIFA President Gianni Infantino has declared that all are welcome in Qatar.
England head coach Gareth Southgate has expressed concern over the human rights breach.
“It would be horrible to think that some of our fans feel they can’t go because they feel threatened or worried about their safety.”
Coach Southgate further highlighted women’s rights and the “great shame” it would bring if female Three Lions fans avoided attending World Cup matches out of fear.
Nevertheless, an ominous confusion hangs over the World Cup’s head like a cloud. The waving of the rainbow flag appears to be an unwelcome act in Qatar. FIFA officer Joyce Cook told The Associated Press that “rainbow flags, t-shirts will all be welcome in the stadium.”
With all its related worries, fans will always come to Qatar with dogged determination. Despite this, Qatar is a nation where religious beliefs run counter to LGBTQ rights. Coupled with assurances from FIFA, even as campaigners indignantly reject General Al Ansari’s admonitions, the 28 nights of the World Cup do not appear to be promoting the Qatari government.
Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images