The West has launched a spate of attacks on Qatar’s human rights record as well as corruption allegations, that has affected the coverage of the World Cup hosted by the nation. The cancel culture has been able to prevent popular celebrities from being a part of the world cup, however, it was unable to prevent the iconic brands from sponsoring the grand event.
Like any controversy, there are two sides to the coin here too. Looking from the perspective of the NGOs, the migrants (just like my father, in the city of Dubai 20 years ago) work in extremely difficult conditions and are highly susceptible to abuse. The LGBTQ+ rights is a major concern for the Liberal West as Qatar follows Islamic laws. The awarding of the world cup host nation rights in itself was embroiled in a story of bribery and corruption, thus pushing Qatar to a corner from the get-go.
Is Qatar the first autocratic nation to host a World cup? No, of course not, FYI, the first European World Cup host was a fascist Italy under Mussolini. Is Qatar the first country to be embroiled in a bribery case regarding a world cup bidding process? FIFA began its journey on the highway of bribery in 1996 and has not stopped since. Is Qatar the first host country with worker exploitation issues? No, South Africa was a stellar example of that, and there are many more if you look deep enough.
So, what is the real problem with Qatar? Is it a combination of all these issues? Or is it that the World has suddenly become righteous? I do believe that the majority of the Western criticism stems from a good place in the heart, when you follow their perspective, however, the key underlying issue here is the dogmatism behind the universality of Western thoughts- they preach because they believe their rules apply to every corner of the globe.
How does the Global South look at it? While Qatar has its issues on migrant rights, the Middle East is the biggest source of foreign remittance for the South Asian households. The fact that these migrants can come and look for an opportunity in the labour market is in itself a marked improvement over Europe And the U.S. where economic migrant are looked down upon and have to resort to extreme border crossing techniques due to a lack of legal routes. I am not saying that one system is better than the other but rather I would like to bring home the point that there is no right answer to the question of migrants. It is the same for morality, ethics and culture.
For a governing body that controls a sport of this size, Fifa is too big to be cancelled. A dry world cup is exactly what the world needs today, for people to be thinking clearly when they support their home teams. Maybe they will be sober enough to have a renewed appreciation of how this part of the world thinks and runs.