Searching beyond the roars of millions of loyal fans worldwide, past the uplifting wins and through the disappointing losses witnessed by even the greatest of football pitches. An unanswered question remains to raise many eyebrows and turn many heads: Should Qatar be the country to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022?

Four years have passed since the official awarding of the World Cup to Qatar by FIFA, but the years aren’t the only things that have passed. What else has? The lives of over 1,200 Indian and Nepalese workers in Qatar alone. Why? Construction accidents while building the stadia in Doha, Qatar.

For someone who works with charities like myself, this is an absolute and utter shock. Why is it that some lives matter more than others? And more importantly: why isn’t anything being done about this by any of the FIFA officials? During the London 2012 Olympics the stadia were built in time for the games and nobody was harmed in the process. Frankly, nobody has been harmed in any of the previous World Cups or Olympic games as much as this. Qatar is a state where rights of migrant workers do not exist despite the fact that 9 in 10 of Qatar’s inhabitants are migrants. Their only right is to work, and in conditions even Satan would consider harsh.

Do you remember when French-Algerian striker Zahir Belounis hit the headlines early this year as he brought mass attention to Qatar’s travel authorities? After allegedly being in a four-year dispute with his employer over unpaid wages, Qatar’s Kafala system (which started in Bahrain; a country with ongoing protests against the corrupt government since 2011 – resulting in over 2,100 unfair arrests and multiple deaths of innocent civilians) authorised the employer over his exit visa, and unfortunately, Belounis was unable to leave the country until March 2014.With this being said, it is clear that any country which does not give their employees the basic right to leave whenever they wish is a country that has its foundations well rooted into injustice. It’s no laughing matter, but who knows if Qatar will even let football fans leave the country after the finals? There could well be another unjust system that allows them to do so, another system that many people are blind to.

Let’s take a step back and look at all the glorious football history Qatar is known for. Oh wait, there is none. So then, what is the basis on which FIFA officials like Sepp Blatter made the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to a country unheard of in the world of football? This decision not only undermined the heavy investment of other countries such as the USA, Japan, Australia and South Korea during the World Cup process, but also caused a pitch full of suspicion that some sort of fishy trade deals were going on between FIFA and Qatar. Cough cough, Jack Warner and the mysterious 1.2 million dollars.

Another reason why the World Cup’s host country should be reconsidered is because social minorities are regarded less acceptable by the bulk of the Qatari society, and with illogical reasoning. For example, homosexuals are threatened with legal action against them, but not any homosexuals, just men. Reports show that two females are legally allowed to practice homosexuality, but two men are not. If Qatar was really representing Islam as it claims to do, homosexuality would not be allowed at all. But the fact that they allow it to happen between adult females is solid proof that anybody involved with this law in Qatar is ill-minded in that they base their laws on what they desire, not because of equal rights.

Religious minorities are usually threatened too, particularly the less popular Shia sect of Islam. Qatar, a Sunni Muslim-dominated country, is allied with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; the main countries where Shias have been mistreated solely because of their beliefs. When I visited the latter in 2012 during a pilgrimage, I was oppressed because I am not from the main sect of Islam.

“Tell her to stop praying! God doesn’t accept the prayers of infidels like you!”, is one line I’ll never forget, as a bearded man wearing a thawb that failed to go past his ankles accompanied by a policeman with a jeering smirk on his face ridiculed the beliefs I have come to follow through research. Had this been the only experience of injustice I tasted there, I would have let it slip. However, I witnessed ‘men of God’ (who don’t represent God in the least bit) beating and dragging someone for not praying the same way as them. If I were a footballer, or even just a fan at the World Cup, I would feel very uncomfortable to play in a country where people of my ‘type’ are condemned and oppressed.

You may think I’m being biased since I was born into the shia sect, but actually, I condemn the extreme sides of any sect. I remember one summer when I was 8, I visited Iran. Being born and raised in cold, grey London, the weather there was too hot for me and I went out without a head cover only to hear a grumpy old man scolding me in Farsi for not covering up. I was only 8, so I didn’t have to wear the hijab – but this proves that I dislike both extremes because I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Now, back to the main point: reasons why Qatar is not a suitable World Cup host. In addition to injustice towards migrant workers, gays and other sects of Islam, women have also been a victim of Qatari law. Even though Qatar has the ratio of men to women at an unmistakable 3:1, it still remains to have a female prison population which exceeds double the worldwide average, by approximately 13 percent. Most female prisoners are underpaid ex-pats who don’t even know the national language which they are tried in and are not given access to seek assistance from any relatives or friends. Crystal clear is an understatement of the way women are regarded as second class citizens and are thus not provided with the simple rights many of us take for granted today. What’s next? A rule that prevents females from watching the football matches? That sure wouldn’t put a smile on my face.

With little to no history in football and little to no human rights for women, gays, shia Muslims and migrant workers, my answer to my own question is: Qatar deserves little to no recognition as a suitable state to host the World Cup in 2022.

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