Almost 12 years ago, Qatar shocked the world, winning the right to host the world’s largest football tournament.
Then FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced that it would become the first country in the Middle East to host the tournament in 2022, while ignoring Australia.
Australia only got one vote after spending more than $40 million on its show.
But there was a problem; Qatar’s human rights record.
LGGBTIQ rights +
Same-sex sexual activity is a criminal offense in Qatar and is punishable by imprisonment – even death in some circumstances.
But the Organizing Committee for the FIFA World Cup this year in Qatar said SBS News LGBTIQ+ fans will not face any discrimination during the tournament.
Fans of the German men’s soccer team raise banners at Wembley during Euro 2020 last year. source: GT / Marcus Gilliard – GES Sportfoto
Fatima Al-Nuaimi, Executive Director of Communications at the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy for the tournament, says Qatar has hosted about 600 international events since it was granted hosting rights and claims not to have a single incident of discrimination.
“We constantly assure everyone that everyone is welcome,” Ms. Al-Naimi told SBS News.
“Everyone will be able to come and enjoy matches and support their teams, regardless of their background, religion or gender.”
Fatima Al-Nuaimi says Qatar has hosted nearly 600 international events since it acquired the rights to the FIFA World Cup.
Although fans are not sure. For the second consecutive FIFA World Cup, James Cardal has no interest in attending.
Cardal, chairman of Pride Football Australia, says it is “shameful” for FIFA to give back-to-back editions of the tournament to countries. [Russia and Qatar] He believes he has “poor, poor” opinions of the LGBTQ+ community.
“Given that they call football a global game, it’s totally hypocritical,” he said.
More than one million people are expected to travel to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup this year. But for the 500 members of the Pride Football Australia squad, this is a journey none of them will take.
“We don’t feel included, we really feel excluded from the tournament itself,” Cardal said.
“I think it’s a very poor offer from FIFA and Qatar as well.”
FIFA, world football’s governing body, remains confident that promises of inclusion will be fulfilled, adding that fans will be free to fly rainbow flags at matches.
“We have received the necessary guarantees, we are training all the officials, we are working side by side with the government, with the police authorities, and everyone will be welcome,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino told the Qatar Economic Forum in late June.
Nasser Al-Khoury, who leads Generation Amazing, a social and human heritage initiative for the tournament’s Supreme Committee, said Qatar was more progressive than its neighbors, but hoped that all visitors would respect Qatari culture and traditions.
“We want to show the world that we are kind of a progressive country in the region,” El-Khoury told SBS News.
“We are modernizing, but in our own way, sticking to our identity, our culture and our roots.”
Nasser Al-Khoury says Qatar wants to show the world that it is a progressive country in the Middle East attributed to him: Adrien Arcioli
Messages about culture follow the message of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
When asked a question earlier this year about visitor rights from the LGBTIQ+ community, he said, “We welcome everyone, but we also expect and want people to respect our culture.”
But writing in a Canadian newspaper last month, Rasha Younes, a researcher in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, said: “Qatar’s consistent reference to ‘culture’ is to deny LGBT rights. “.
“Culture should not be used as a cover for rhetoric, practices and legislation that has effectively excluded content related to sexual orientation and gender identity from the public sphere.”
When Qatar was granted the hosting rights in 2010, the country had a population of just 1.85 million. It has since grown to nearly 3 million. The total area of the Gulf country is only 11,751 square kilometres, making it smaller than Sydney.
Hosting the FIFA World Cup was a groundbreaking opportunity for Qatar – the first in the Arab world to do so. It required significant development with a workforce to match.
Thousands of immigrants were recruited to complete the work in time, but according to human rights groups, many of them were killed on the job.
It’s unclear exactly how many workers have died building FIFA World Cup-related infrastructure, says Amnesty International Australia researcher Nikita White.
“Unfortunately, Qatar does not publish statistics on workers who have died,” said Ms. White.
“What we do know is that thousands of people died while working on the World Cup and we know that unfortunately, their deaths were not properly followed up by the Qatari authorities.”
“Often they are healthy young men who die after working very long hours in harsh conditions and extreme heat but whose deaths are recorded as natural.”
The tournament’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy acknowledges that there have been deaths but says Qatar has made important reforms to protect workers’ rights, including abolishing the sponsorship system.
The system linked workers to the employer, who is responsible for the worker’s visa and legal status. Human rights organizations have criticized the system that has seen employers withhold workers’ passports.
“I am not saying we are perfect,” Mr. El-Khoury said.
“But there have been major developments and changes in labor laws in favor of workers.”
The Australian national football team plays the group matches in the World Cup finals at Al Janoub Stadium in Qatar. attributed to him: Sidhik Keerantakath / Eyepix Group / Future Publishing via Getty Images
Amnesty International has urged FIFA to allocate US$440 million ($631 million) to compensate what it claims are hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who have suffered human rights abuses.
“that they [FIFA] To be presented [US]6 billion dollars [$8.6 billion] of this World Cup. “$440 million is a drop in an ocean,” White said.
Australia will play all three of its group stage matches, against France, Denmark and Tunisia at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakra, about a 20-minute drive from the Qatari capital, Doha.
Teams, including the Australian national team, are considering highlighting the human rights issue in Qatar by taking a collective stand when the tournament kicks off on November 21.
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LGBTIQ+ Australians seeking mental health support can contact QLife at 1800 184827 or visit . It also contains a list of support services.