EcoRéseau Business – Mondial in Qatar, why stigmatize spectators?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Geoffrey Wetzel,
journalist-department manager

The World Cup in Qatar takes place from 20 November to 18 December. Never had an event been so divisive. Despite all the excesses, let’s make no mistake about the culprit(s).

“The World of Shame”, said the newspaper Media party. “Without Us”, with the title Dagbladet for Genforening, the first French newspaper to boycott the event. Several French cities will not broadcast the matches. Personalities have publicly shown their disgust at a World Cup that they do not want to see. Like ex-football players Éric Cantona and Vikash Dhorasoo or actors like Vincent Lindon. Disgust at the conditions under which Qatar can host this planetary meeting… at the expense of 6,500 died on construction sites, human rights were disregarded, total indifference to global warming. And suspicion of corruption in connection with the awarding of this WC. In short, all lights are red.

Football enthusiasts, inevitably subject to a cognitive bias, no longer know whether to publicly assume they will follow this ultra-controversial World Cup. The same ones that in a survey conducted at the end of October by Harris Interactive for RMC, 28% say they will boycott the meeting, while 93% of respondents, in this same survey, are preparing to watch the meetings, at least those of Didier Deschamps’ men. Paradoxically. Viewers don’t know what to do. As if they felt guilty about the humanitarian excesses taking place in Qatar. Watching a meeting with the French team during this World Cup means supporting the use of thousands of slave workers so that a small country of 3 million inhabitants can host a sports competition? I do not believe that.

Let’s not point the finger at the “average” Frenchman who will be sitting in front of his television at the end of November. These football enthusiasts – incarnate or currently of a World Cup, a final, a half. “Football fans must be able to enjoy their sport without being held hostage by FIFA’s dramatic choices, both on a human and ecological level,” condemns the NGO Notre Affaire à Tous. These are undoubtedly the real culprits. Those who said yes, in 2010, to a World Cup in Qatar.

Twelve years ago, human rights in Doha were at best the same as they are today, at worst even more deplorable. The kafala was only officially abolished in 2016. This sponsorship system, which establishes a subordination relationship between the foreign workers present in Qatar, who most often come from the Philippines, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Indonesia, Bangladesh or even Sri Lanka, and their employer . The same system that prohibits foreign workers from leaving Qatari territory without permission from their sponsor. In fact, this remains modern day slavery. “Qatar is using communication to make people think it has stopped kafala, it’s a matter of image”, Pierre Rondeau, sports economist, confided to me a few weeks ago.

And in terms of the environment, our planet hasn’t just been burning for a few months. The famous Giec, whose reports follow each other and results worsen, was created in 1988. Before the publication of a first report in 1990. A few years earlier, in 1987, sustainable development received its official definition. It was during the preparation of the Brundtland report: “a development that meets the needs of today…”, you know the rest. Environmental awareness goes back long before 2010. FIFA acted consciously.

And the world is now paying the consequences. Seven of the eight stadiums that will host the World Cup will be air-conditioned… and open to the sky. Not sure Qatar uses air conditioning for this special event (the WC will take place in the winter), but the Gulf state, to establish its soft power through sports, already thinking about the future. Palme de l’aberration: “Due to a lack of space in Doha to accommodate all the supporters, Qatar has set up a system of shuttles by plane to transport them from neighboring countries to the stadiums”, our colleagues from Novethic remember.

Will the boycott help? “Although it is now too late to erase the suffering caused by past violations, FIFA and Qatar can and must act to prevent further abuses, but also to award compensation to all those who returned the World Cup. possible”, we defend at Amnesty International . The NGO does not plead for the boycott, as it did in 1978 in Argentina – the country was then under a military dictatorship. But demands the tax of 420 million euros in Fifa’s finances. The goal? created a compensation fund for the families of workers who died or were exploited at the Mondial sites. This amount corresponds to the total envelope distributed to the federations participating in the final phase…

… An action that will not bring back the thousands of workers who died. But who would acknowledge a part of Fifa’s responsibility in all these excesses. After Qatar, of course. So spectators at football matches have nothing to do with it. Absolutely nothing.

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