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Posted On: 18 June 2014 11:07 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 01:51 pm

[OPINION] Unfair Officiating: Double Standards in FIFA World Cup Press Coverage of Qatar

Khalifa Al Haroon
Khalifa Al Haroon
Your friendly neighborhood Qatari
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With the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicking off last week in Brazil, international media coverage is now squarely fixed on the relationship between sports and international affairs. Pundits around the world are digging into the World Cup host country’s deep economic, social, and political issues. We should expect intense media scrutiny to rightfully shed light on key human rights issues in Brazil, adding significant pressure for liberal reform. After all, reputable news organisations like The Guardian and The New York Times have been unrelenting in their negative press on Qatar. For example, The Guardian says Qatar’s development in anticipation of the 2022 World Cup has empowered a system of “modern-day slavery”. The New York Times recently described Qatar’s bid for the 2022 tournament as “the most questionable award of a World Cup” in the history of the sport.

This coverage has systematically supported calls to deprive Qatar of the 2022 FIFA World Cup for two reasons: allegations of bribery to secure the bid and the country’s poor standards for migrant workers. Doesn’t it seem reasonable to expect that these same advocates for social change would decry the decision to award the 2014 and 2018 World Cups to Brazil and Russia, respectively, given both countries’ history of worker abuse and FIFA’s long history of corruption?

Turns out, Qatar is in a league of its own.


The New York Times recently decried FIFA’s influence in Brazil, writing, “The FIFA-driven push to build new stadiums at a breakneck pace has led to the deaths of nine construction workers. FIFA’s demands for security and infrastructure may end up displacing as many as 250,000 poor people, who live in the favelas surrounding Brazil’s urban centers.” That very same article describes international football’s governing organisation in the following terms: “FIFA officials have been accused of financial mismanagement, taking bribes and projecting a level of sexism and homophobia that seems to come from another century”.

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