Skip This Corrupt Cup

Boycotting the Qatar-hosted 2022 World Cup is the right and moral thing to do, for myriad reasons.

If you’ve been following this site for awhile, you may recall my piece in January urging you to boycott the Winter Olympics being held in Beijing. In the end, that was an easy choice for me, despite my love for the event itself; China is a brutal totalitarian dictatorship which is committing genocide and actively seeks to destroy the American-led world order. Missing out on some hockey and skiing was a small sacrifice compared to the suffering of those persecuted by the CCP regime.

As with the Winter Olympics, I love the World Cup, the globe’s most important and prestigious soccer tournament, and enjoy watching it every 4 years. I have fond memories of watching my favorite teams – Italy and France – win the tournament in 1998 and 2006, and was very happy to see Les Bleus take the title during my bachelor party in 2018. But I won’t be tuning in this year.

The 2022 World Cup is starting today in the Middle Eastern host nation of Qatar. This year’s version of the quadrennial tournament is an outlier in many ways, not least of which is that it is being held in November, whereas the Cup is traditionally awarded in July. The other reasons, however, are far more disturbing – Qatar is a corrupt, autocratic, discriminatory regime which has no reason to host such a major international sporting event. To be sure, Qatar is no China, but it is still deserving of the boycott treatment. Here’s why.

  • First off, Qatar essentially bought the World Cup. If you’ve followed soccer, you’ll know that the sport’s governing body, FIFA, is a cesspool of corruption. It is notorious for bribe-taking, skimming off the top, and rewarding whoever can pay it the most cash. The Qatar World Cup – and its 2018 predecessor in Russia – were purchased in exactly this way. Qatar is an oil-rich oligarchy which constantly uses its money to buy influence in foreign capitals and international organizations; just look at the funding of some of America’s top think tanks if you are curious. Blatant corruption should never be rewarded, especially in an event which is specifically meant to reward the winning team based on merit.
  • Qatar, despite its (absurd, in my opinion) designation as a major non-NATO ally by the Biden administration, is at best a fair-weather friend of the United States. At worst, they’re cynically using our presence to play both sides, when they actually share few interests with us. Qatar allows us a significant base at Doha, its capital, which serves as the headquarters for CENTCOM, America’s military designation of the Middle East. This is a good thing, but it often seems like Qatar uses that basing arrangement as an excuse to act against American interests in other ways. For example, they are close with the Iran/Russia/China bloc, antagonistic to many of our other Gulf allies, promote Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas, and have a long history of supporting the Taliban – even when we were at war with that regime. Qatar is an amoral regime which seeks to protect its own neck while working with our enemies; they certainly don’t deserve the major non-NATO ally status bestowed on them earlier this year. And they don’t deserve our eyeballs on their prestige event either.
  • Qatar also uses its money to propagandize across the world through its wholly-owned mouthpiece Al Jazeera. That ‘news’ network is essentially an anti-American, pro-Islamist, antisemitic platform. Al Jazeera promotes antisemitism throughout the Middle East, giving favorable coverage to anti-Israel terrorist attacks, platforming Hamas terrorists, and smearing Israel as an apartheid state which is engaged in a genocidal project against Arabs. Its anti-American outlook was on full display after the attacks of 9/11, when the network broadcast justifications of the terrorist massacre by Osama bin Laden himself; they also promoted videos of Ayman al-Zawahiri, a key al Qaeda leader, throughout the war in Iraq. In the US, Al Jazeera heavily pushes anti-Israel views, radical politics, and the claim that any criticism of Islamism is inherently ‘Islamophobic’. All of this is directly funded by the Qatari government, and seems to coincide directly with their views.
  • Antisemitism is just the beginning of Qatar’s disastrously bad human rights record. The nation is profoundly anti-LGBT, to the point of making displays of homosexual affection criminally punishable. The government has even forbidden the wearing of rainbow armbands which were planned as part of the kit for England’s squad at the tournament. Qatar lags behind on women’s rights, speech rights, and freedoms of association and of the press as well. Migrant worker mistreatment is a fact of life in Qatar. The migrant worker population is huge, and many rights groups have likened it to indentured servitude or compelled labor. In the time since the small nation was awarded the Cup, over 6,500 migrant workers have died in the country; many of whom perished building the very stadiums and hotels in which the event is held.

Qatar’s World Cup mascot, meant to be a soccer-playing turban, looks eerily like one of the ghosts of the migrant workers who died building the stadiums in which the Cup will be held.

As with this year’s Winter Olympics, the solution to this problem is mainly an institutional one; FIFA needs to stop being so irredeemably corrupt and trading cash for influence. There should never be another World Cup hosted by a nation like Russia or Qatar which chronically abuses human rights and promotes despicable ideologies abroad. But these are things that take time to implement, and a lot of effort on the part of interested parties like the US. None of us as individuals can control the future of world sport. What we can do, however, is refuse to grant them our attention and, therefore, our dollars. Sending a message that this isn’t acceptable is as easy as changing the channel. Surely, we can do that?

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