World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 – A taste of what’s to come in 2022?

Ask any football fan what they will think about the next World Cup in 2022, and most of them are going to express their dismay. There’s little doubt that the upcoming World Cup was bought and paid for by the rich Qataris, but that’s not really what’s most horrifying for many football fans.

The list of arguments against Qatar is long. First of all, the country is simply too small and too hot to host an event like the football World Cup. Furthermore, the Qatari national team has never really shown any signs of being anywhere near good enough to qualify for such an event on its own strengths. These arguments alone should have disqualified the country from ever hosting a World Cup.

Well-documented human rights abuses

However, it seemed that the money the Qataris were willing to put up was simply too good to pass over for FIFA officials. Given that the World Cup of 2006 has brought forth some skeletons from the closet of the DFB in terms of possible corruption, you could potentially see why a football federation like the German FA finds it hard to be overly critical of the process that gave Qatar the World Cup.

Even putting all these matters to one side, we’re still left with an incredible number of topics that could fill entire books about why Qatar never should have been given the go-ahead to host a World Cup.

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The human rights abuses of the regime in Qatar have been well-documented. Over the years, construction workers have lived in slave-like conditions, and many of them have died in the process of building football stadiums. To think that the health and safety of construction workers and the human-rights abuses of this regime seemingly mean nothing whatsoever to FIFA is hard to comprehend.

Another issue is that Qatar doesn’t recognize Israel as a sovereign nation. Indeed, Qataris can even be punished by their regime if they’re found to have done business with Jews.

Football’s ties to Qatar

The list of concerning matters regarding the Qatari regime seems endless. Yet, sporting event after sporting event is nonetheless hosted by the nation. Add to that the influx of money coming from the Gulf state into the pockets of some of Europe’s most well-known football clubs, and one gets a clearer idea of why nobody seems to be speaking up about the matter.

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Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge made headlines in Germany when he claimed that the World Cup in Qatar bettered the situation of construction workers. Bayern’s ties to the country have been well documented.

The club hosts its annual winter training camps in the nation, for example, and Qatar Airlines is one of Bayern’s commercial partners. Given that the club prides itself on the memory of former president Kurt Landauer, a Jew who had to leave Germany to avoid being killed by the Nazi regime, these particular business dealings leave a bad taste in the mouth.

But the money is too good to be passed up…

Very little has changed

Moreover, the World Athletics Championships are currently being hosted by Qatar. The stadium for the games in Doha was again built on the back of workers who’ve been exploited by the nation. A 52-page report by Amnesty International made for some shocking reading.

Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty International’s deputy director of global issues, said:

“Migrant workers often go to Qatar in the hope of giving their families a better life – instead, many people return home penniless after spending months chasing their wages, with too little help from the systems that are supposed to protect them.”

Cockburn added:

“Migrant workers in Qatar too often face an impossible choice between long and often fruitless efforts to seek justice, or returning to their families without the money needed to support them. “

No questions being asked

However, now that the event has started, matters of human-rights abuses have been drowned out by the reporting of the sporting contests. Athletes give the same old fluff interviews, never really talking about such minor things as human-rights issues.

The only critical reporting that has found its way to the front pages of European newspapers relates to the incredible heat in Doha. It was deemed newsworthy that only 40 out of 68 runners managed to complete the marathon course in the women’s final.

Right now, we’e being treated to media coverage such as this German TV reporter showing off how the air-conditioning system within the ground keeps the stadium cool for the athletes.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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