The Qatar World Cup’s safety concerns are a constant subject of discussion in the soccer world. Social media provides outlets for millions to discuss and learn about how a World Cup in the desert country plays out. All the changes and accommodations for the Qatar World Cup are firsts for the world’s biggest sporting event. Oftentimes, they raise more questions than excitement.

Historically, the World Cup occurs during the Summer. However, due to Qatar’s topography amid desert heat, FIFA pushed the quadrennial event to the Fall. Even then, forecasts put the average temperature in the range of 85° Fahrenheit (29° Celsius) between November 21 and December 18.

Seven of the stadiums are outdoor venues. The lone exception is Al Bayt Stadium, which uses a retractable roof. These newly constructed venues came under the focus on green design and energy-efficient ventilation. Each of the stadiums is within an easy drive of one another. Lusail Stadium, 14 miles north of Doha, is the host of the final and is the central most venue for the country. Lusail Stadium, an 80,000-capacity venue, hosts the World Cup Final on December 18.

Working conditions in preparation

The fulcrum of the Qatar World Cup’s safety concerns stem from the 2 million blue-collar workers building infrastructure under reprehensible conditions. Over 6,000 migrant laborers died during construction. The Qatari government said “the mortality rate among these communities is within the expected range.” That perplexing quote suggests activists should be satisfied with such tragic consequences. Yet, Qatari officials chastise complaining workers experiencing inhospitable conditions.

According to Amnesty International, workers have been “exposed to forced labor.” However, a reform process is underway that supposedly eases the abuse endured by migrant workers.

Furthermore, laborers worked overtime when the exigencies of their organization demanded it. However, employers did not properly compensate the workers for their time. Amnesty further scrutinized FIFA. The organization claimed the world governing body for soccer should take “responsibility to both prevent abuses and to address those that have occurred as a result of their business operations linked to the World Cup.”

Despite FIFA’s admonitions to Qatar, it remains set upon the organizing committees to enforce the reformed regulations upon employers.

Qatar World Cup’s safety concerns

Back on March 25, 2021, Germany sent a message during a pregame photo opportunity prior to a qualifier against Iceland. German players spelled out “human rights” across their black shirts.

Following suit, Norwegian and Dutch players practiced similar protests. Moreover, on February 26, 2022, Bundesliga fans flew a “Boycott Qatar 2022” during a game between Freiburg and Hertha Berlin.

Roberto Martinez is the head coach of Belgium, which qualified for the World Cup for the third-straight tournament in 2022. He offered a different take.

“Going to Qatar is a unique opportunity to bring the eyes of the world into any aspects that they are not right in society.”

In other words, Coach Martinez predicts that the most prominent sports event sheds light on the issues. The billions of viewers for the World Cup could learn more about the unprecedented amount of controversy.

On the contrary, the World Cup brings Qatar billions of dollars from viewership, advertisements, tourism and hospitality. This is regardless of working conditions or discrimination against women and the LGBTQ community.

The organizing committee in Qatar stated “conditions for low paid migrant workers have improved.” According to FARE, a network overseeing discrimination during matches, the Qatari government implements false excuses to guise conservative mandates. Qatar’s faulty reasoning resulted in global scrutiny leading to the World Cup.

Cultural differences

Qatar is a small nation with semi-fundamentalist decrees. For example, alcoholic beverages will be permitted in designated areas throughout the World Cup. However, public drinking is punishable with jail time. Therefore, many tourists may exercise prudence before securing tickets and making travel arrangements. Moreover, skin revealing is a sensitive subject in this tiny country along the Persian Gulf. Should a tourist making an excursion to Qatar reveal shoulders or thighs, they can be held subject to arrest and punishment.

LGBTQ fans have qualms about visiting Qatar for the 64 matches. Same-sex relation in a conservative country like Qatar is deemed illicit behavior. Chairman of Qatar’s National Committee General Al Ansari raised eyebrows among LGBTQ activists. He stated that Qatari officials may take away rainbow flags, the symbol of the LGBTQ community, to protect the fan.

“Somebody else around him might attack him.” An interesting order of justice to be dished out. Especially considering FIFA’s President, Gianni Infantino, says all are welcome in Qatar.

Traveling Fans

England head coach Gareth Southgate expressed his concern about the derogation of human rights.

“It would be horrible to think some of our fans feel they can’t go because they feel threatened or worried about their safety.”

Coach Southgate further emphasized women’s rights and the “great shame” it would bring if female fans of the Three Lions avoided attending the World Cup games out of fear.

Nonetheless, an ominous confusion looms over the head of the World Cup like a cloud. The waving of the rainbow flag appears to be an obtrusive act in Qatar. FIFA Officer Joyce Cook told the Associated Press that “rainbow flags, T-shirts will all be welcome in the stadium.”

With all its connected worries, fans will still travel to Qatar with an obstinate determination. Despite that, Qatar is a nation where religious beliefs are contradictory to LGBTQ rights. In conjunction with FIFA’s reassurance, even if activists indignantly reject the admonitions from General Al Ansari, the 28 nights of the World Cup do not appear to promote the Qatari government.

Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images