Top 10 FIFA World Cup 2022 Controversies EXPLAINED
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Jordy McKen
These World Cup controversies will have you crying "foul!" For this list, we'll be looking at some of the biggest scandals that have tainted the 2022 football-slash-soccer tournament and threatened to overshadow the event. Our countdown includes Naturalizing Players, Worldwide Boycotts, LGBTQ+ Rights, and more!
Top 10 Qatar World Cup 2022 Rumours/Controversies Explained
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Qatar World Cup 2022 Rumors and Controversies Explained.
For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the biggest scandals that have tainted the 2022 football-slash-soccer tournament and threatened to overshadow the event.
Who deserves to host the next World Cup? Let us know below!
#10: Heat Warning
Usually, the World Cup is held in the summer for the northern hemisphere, often in July, when most seasons are finished. But when Qatar got the tournament, that wouldn't have been an option. For the city of Doha, the average temperature in July can reach 42.4 degrees Celsius, or 108 Fahrenheit. Not great for players to run about for 90-odd minutes as it can be dangerous. So, the World Cup in Qatar is from November to December, when the temperature averages up to 29.7 degrees Celsius, or 85 Fahrenheit, with cooling tech in stadiums to help reduce it further. However, the winter switch messes with many professional leagues, who have gone on a break to compensate for the World Cup.
#9: Naturalizing Players
Over the years, Qatar’s football association has naturalized non-Qatari players to give them a leg-up on the international scene as they tried to qualify for a World Cup – which they never have until doing so by becoming hosts. Some former stars that got this treatment include Sebastián Soria, originally from Uruguay, and Brazil’s Emerson Sheik. In 2004, the nation attempted to bring Brazilians Dedé, Leonardo, and Aílton to help them qualify for the 2006 World Cup, even though none of them had played in or had any ties to Qatar. FIFA swept in, rejected the moves, and changed eligibility rules to make them stricter. Current players that have been naturalized after playing in the country include Boualem Khoukhi, Mohammed Muntari, and Ró-Ró.
#8: Paid Fans
If you have to offer many incentives to bring over fans to an event…well, maybe that should be a warning sign for whether it should go ahead. Alongside rumors of Qatar bringing in fake fans to boost PR, the group called the Fan Leader Network has gone further. They offered to pay for the flights and match tickets for some England and Wales fans. All they have to do is attend select promotional events and stay for at least 14 days. Reportedly, around 40 fans from each nation have signed up for this offer. Under the terms and conditions, the fans have to promote the event and tell authorities about social media posts that criticize the World Cup. Yikes.
#7: Massive Costs
Hosting a World Cup is a pricey endeavor. For the 2010 edition, South Africa spent a whopping $3.5 billion. Well, Qatar needed to spend a lot more to meet FIFA’s requirements. After all, they needed air-conditioned stadiums, transport, accommodation, training facilities, and more. According to estimates, it’s believed the country has spent an eye-watering $220 billion! A portion of this was spent to build the new city of Lusail. Since we mentioned accommodation, Qatar, along with other options, promoted to fans the use of “five-star” beach camping in the desert. However, tournament goers have been left frustrated at the high price and lack of availability in places to stay, some of the “football villages” have been likened to the ill-fated Fyre Festival.
For many, drinking and football go hand-in-hand. It helps with celebrating victory or drowning your sorrows. But since Qatar is a conservative religious state, some nations and manufacturers have been concerned about the rules on alcohol. Qatar allows its consumption in bars, hotels, and some other areas as long as you’re 21 or over. However, it’s prohibited in public places. There will be zones at the event such as the Fifa Fan Festival where alcohol is available. But just two days before the tournament, FIFA announced that alcohol wouldn’t be sold in stadiums … except in corporate areas. The move was criticized by the Football Supporters' Association as a “last minute U-turn which speaks to a wider problem - the total lack of communication and clarity from the organising committee towards supporters.”
#5: Bargaining Beckham
Joe Lycett is a national treasure in the UK. If he isn’t trolling everyone, he can be found taking a stand against a big problem. And that brings us to David Beckham. The former footballer has garnered a lot of controversy by taking a big paycheck, estimated as high as £150 million, to promote the Qatar World Cup despite a dubious human rights history – more on that later. Lycett brought up Beckham’s status as a gay icon in the UK and challenged the Manchester United legend to pull out of the event. If he agrees, the comedian will donate £10,000 to LGBTQ+ charities. If Beckham ignores the ultimatum, Lycett will shred the cash instead. The ball’s in Beck’s court.
#4: Worldwide Boycotts
While FIFA seems to like to pretend that everything's a-okay, others around the world…not so much. Numerous groups around the globe have called for a boycott of the 2022 tournament. Norwegian club Tromsø IL called on their country’s football association to snub the event, but they refused. Fans in Germany pressured their association as well, only for the plea to also be ignored. With the protests going on in Iran, former Iranian national player Sosha Makani called on fans to boycott the tournament, or create slogans to highlight the government’s murder of protesters. Several cities in France, including Paris, won’t be broadcasting the World Cup as a protest against Qatar’s human rights record and the environmental impact of the event.
#3: Corruption Allegations
Ever since it was announced that Qatar was going to host the 2022 World Cup, the event has been tarnished by allegations of corruption. Qatari national Mohammed bin Hammam, who was the president of the Asian Football Confederation, was subsequently banned for life by FIFA for allegedly bribing other executives to vote for his country. This exploded in 2015 when numerous FIFA higher-ups that allegedly received payments were arrested on corruption charges, including the former President of CONCACAF, Jack Warner. Others reportedly involved include FIFA General Secretary Jérôme Valcke, FIFA presidents Sepp Blatter and João Havelange, and UEFA president Michel Platini. Numerous other host nations have also been accused of corrupted bids as the FIFA scandal had been going on for years.
#2: LGBTQ+ Rights
One of the biggest fears for fans with Qatar hosting the World Cup was the nation’s treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. Just being gay in the country is enough to get you arrested, receive a fine, or be locked up. With pressure from FIFA and the world, Qatar eased its approach by allowing rainbow flags within stadiums. Some competing nations will also wear a rainbow captain armband to support LGBTQ+. However, this hasn’t put everyone’s minds at ease - especially after Qatar ambassador and former footballer Khalid Salman claimed that homosexuality was “damage in the mind.” Grim. The Salman interview was swiftly cut short by a World Cup organizing committee press officer before more harm could be done.
#1: Working Conditions
As soon as Qatar began building for the World Cup, the conditions of workers were called into question. The nation has a population of two million migrant workers, and many thousands are subjected to forced labour and not permitted to leave the country - amounting to modern day slavery. Eventually, after a lot of pressure, Qatar agreed to reforms, but many groups, like Amnesty International, have reported continued abuses. Reportedly, several thousand migrant workers have died. To protest the human rights violations, Denmark plans to wear “toned down” shirts at the tournament, including one black kit, the color of mourning. FIFA, not enjoying the negative association, pleaded with nations to stop highlighting issues and “focus on the football.”