Debate of the Week: Should we all refuse to watch?
THE NEWS: Qatar’s attitudes towards homosexuality, women’s rights and labour law violations are provoking international outcry. Now some are calling for a boycott of the World Cup.
A fire-breathing spider made from fifty tonnes of steel. Seven glitzy new stadiums. Ice rinks just miles from beach clubs; theme parks next to circuses; light shows which promise a “glance into the future”.
At its heart, the FIFA World Cup is a carnival, where football can seem less important than the festivities. This season, Qatar promises to run the most expensive tournament of all time, with expenses of over $220bn (£187bn). The sum amounts to 20 times what Russia spent hosting the World Cup in 2018.
This extravagance contrasts with Qatar’s conservative culture. Alcohol is mostly illegal. Adultery can lead to 100 lashes. Homosexuality can be punishable by death. Many argue it is far from inclusive to host the event in a place where the rights of LGBTQ+ people and women are so restricted.
Last year, the Guardian reported that over 6,500 migrant workers have died constructing the tournament’s infrastructure. Many of them experienced terrible human rights violations. Some have also raised concerns about the impact of flights and construction on the environment.
Ten European team captains plan to wear “One Love” armbands to show opposition to Qatar’s anti-homosexuality policies. England defender Lotte Wubben-Moy has stated that she will not be watching the men’s World Cup due to moral objections.
A growing movement is calling for us to switch off our televisions during football season to signal that we do not support human rights violations.
But some say that the boycotts are hypocritical. Would the people boycotting the World Cup also “boycott” buildings like the White House, Vatican and Palace of Versailles, since they were all built by slave labour?
Football is often about more than just politics, and can be used to platform important social issues, but at its heart, some argue, it should just be enjoyed.
Should we all refuse to watch?
Boycotting the World Cup will not bring back those who tragically died building the stadiums and other infrastructure, but it could prevent it from happening again by significantly denting viewing figures.
There is no chance that a boycott would ever seriously affect viewing figures, since it is one of the most popular global events. Figures show that more than half of the world tunes in.
Morality is far from black and white. Many people use the World Cup to connect with the people around them: family, friends, acquaintances. It provides a sense of national and international community and brings people a lot of joy.
FIFA- The Federation Internationale de Football Association is the world’s highest governing body of association football. Vatican-Where the Pope lives in Italy.