Qatar sports minister, Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali, was interviewed by the Associated Press about concerns with Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup. The interview touched on topics such as human rights, terrorism, alcohol and homosexuality. Al-Ali tried to ease the fears of many and showcase how great the tournament will be and how Qatar will be a wonderful host.
Thoughts on Human Rights
After many reports on how Qatar has treated foreign laborers who are building their country with essentially slave labor, al-Ali promised that changes will be made. He says that Qataris aren’t “vicious people who act like vampires.” He also shared a story about his father working for an oil company at 12 years old as a laborer under conditions that “would be like child abuse.”
Forgive me for being insensitive and cynical, but I don’t think he feels that bad about the laborers. Either he doesn’t feel as bad about his father working like that or he views the laborers as less than human beings and views them more as property than as people. All I know is that people are dying every day and that’s something that can’t be spun by a PR firm. Instead of getting my information from those in charge in Qatar, I would rather watch this and go from there.
Thoughts on Terrorism
Al-Ali denied claims that Qatar is affiliating themselves with Islamic extremists in neighboring countries. He said that supporting terrorism makes no sense for “a country that wants to hold the World Cup and big events almost every year. If you support any terrorist group it will not bring you any good. It is only going to haunt you one day.”
Whether or not al-Ali is actually telling the truth here, it makes sense to separate themselves from terrorist groups and islamic extremists particularly if they are planning to host the biggest tournament in the world.
Thoughts on Alcohol
Due to religious beliefs, Qatar restricts the sale and consumption of alcohol. Only hotel guests who show their passport or Qataris who are licensed can buy alcohol in Qatar. While not a guarantee, al-Ali said that there can be “creative” solutions to allow World Cup visitors to drink during the event.
Of all the issues facing Qatar, this is the one of the least serious issues but it’ll probably be a rare issue Qatar will budge on. FIFA cares about money and they won’t stand for a “dry” World Cup when there are millions to be made. They’ll allow everything else troubling the 2022 World Cup but there needs to be Budweiser at the stadium.
Thoughts on Homosexuality
Al-Ali kept it short and sweet when it came to homosexuality at the World Cup. He said, “It’s exactly like the alcohol question.”
Also due to religious beliefs, Qatar banned homosexuality but unlike making exceptions like alcohol, one can be imprisoned for up to 5 years for committing a homosexual act. It seemed like al-Ali thought about homosexuals about as long as me choosing what socks I want to wear in the morning.
All in all, this is just another reason why FIFA should move the World Cup but we all know they probably won’t. Al-Ali proclaimed that Qatar is, “a brand related to quality, to luxury. We will not jeopardize this brand (by) holding a World Cup that is not successful. God help the country that will host the World Cup after us.”
Qatar may have a great World Cup and we may be in awe of the display, the production and the beauty of the 2022 World Cup in that single month that the tournament takes place, but all we have heard since 2010 has been nothing but bad things concerning Qatar and the 2022 World Cup. Qatar winning the right to host the World Cup opened the eyes of many people around the world. The World Cup has shined a spotlight on Qatar’s stance on corruption, human rights, LGBT rights and the many other issues we discussed multiple times. Qatar thinks they are “a brand related to quality, to luxury.” All I have seen from the last 4 years is how corrupt and discriminatory the Qatari leadership is. I have to imagine that we’ll be hearing more of the same the next 8 years.