It seems the world governing bodies stance on the serious issues in football is laughable at best, but wholly non-existent. The organisation headed by Sepp Blatter, continues to turn a blind eye to thousands of migrant deaths in the build up to Qatar 2022 – however on this occasion it isn’t just FIFA who are to blame.
We reported a couple of weeks ago that reporters from Germany’s biggest TV network had been detained while reporting on Qatar’s World Cup and the corruption that continues to plague FIFA. On Monday, it became apparent the same thing happened to BBC reporter Mark Lobel, who was followed, arrested and detained by Doha security services. They were then interrogated separately, their camera and footage was seized and they spent two nights in prison before being released.
So what are they trying to hide? Although the Qatari labour minister has stated that the death toll of migrant workers is being exaggerated by the international press, there can be no denial about the appalling treatment migrant workers have faced. Qatar enforces a restrictive kafala system – which prevents workers from changing jobs for five years. Leaving workers at the mercy of their employers.
The Guardian estimates that in 2014, Nepalese workers building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup died at a rate of one every two days, despite promises from the government to improve worker conditions. But despite all this, no action has been taken by FIFA, and let’s be honest – it has gone wholly unreported in the footballing World. Maybe it’s because Qatar have much greater influence in football than we think. Barcelona are sponsored by the Qatar Foundation and PSG are owned by Qatar Sports Investment, to name a couple. FIFA and pundits are very happy to focus the narrative on why you should or shouldn’t host the World Cup in December.
It appears the only way we can force change is to encourage the sponsors to take action. Remember when Nicklas Bendtner was fined £80,000 for showing Paddy Power boxers, yet Porto were only fined £16,700 for their fans racist abuse earlier that season? Why? Simply because ambush marketing could cost UEFA money, if it became a regular occurrence. Unless sponsors threaten to pull out, FIFA simply doesn’t care.
Sponsors will only do so if the fans, the very people they want to get their message to, are actually bothered by it. This is why it is important to raise awareness. A campaign started very recently has already seen Visa release a statement to discuss the issue that has been going on for years.
Their statement read:
We continue to be troubled by the reports coming out of Qatar related to the World Cup and migrant worker conditions. We have expressed our grave concern to FIFA and urge them to take all necessary actions to work with the appropriate authorities and organizations to remedy this situation and ensure the health and safety of all involved.
This is why we need to keep the momentum going, and raise awareness. I absolutely love football, but the World Cup should NEVER cost lives. Is it not meant to enrich lives?