December 9, 2022
Sienna Taus | Writer
Qatar is a country that has been surrounded by controversy for its poor treatment of migrants, blatant discrimination against women and LGBTQ+ people, and inadequate protection of human rights.
This caused countries and citizens to become concerned about the World Cup being held in Qatar. A serious concern. Junior Sydney Larson claimed that “regardless of where it is hosted, I am excited to watch the games,” explaining “that the World Cup only happens once every four years and includes so many different countries that it is interesting to watch.”
However, a Qatar government official gave CNN a statement claiming that the World Cup host was an inclusive country and “everyone is welcomed in Qatar,” adding, “our track record has shown that we have warmly welcomed all people regardless of background.”
Since then, this statement has been getting some criticism, and not just this statement. The whole World Cup has been judged and discussed across the globe. Is the backlash justified? Necessary? Or an overreaction?
The US team was seen wearing the pride flag proudly on their uniform, supporting all members of the LGBTQ+ community. This was seen as a type of protest against the strict laws and rules set in place in Qatar regarding same-sex relationships. The US team was not the only one protesting. The fans also brought pride flags into the games to show their support. Some fans were not allowed entry to games if they had flags. Eventually, the US team was asked to stop wearing the banners, and they did.
The US was not alone in protesting.
The Iranian team did not sing their national anthem before their match against England to defy their government and show support for their homeland’s ongoing anti-government civilian protest. The fans also participated in this protest, chanting “Women, Life, Freedom.” Soon after, the Iranian government threatened these players and their families lives if they did not sing the national anthem. In the next game, all players were seen mumbling their national anthem.
Junior Sarah Ahmadi stated that “the Iranian team was really brave for making such a public protest against their government with a violent threat being such a reality.”
Politics and protest have been the center of attention at these games, bringing in more viewers. But what is this accomplishing? Harsh threats from governments and further conflict between Qatar and everyone else. The question should be addressed: Is the World Cup the correct place to discuss world issues? And If not, where is a more appropriate location to start these movements?
The World Cup, traditionally a place where differences and politics are put aside, and 32 countries play a world-wide loved sport for the entertainment of billions, is starting to become a platform for social change.
To be clear: these movements and protests have always been important. However, being forced into a country where many struggles to have basic human rights has sparked the spread and helped vocalize these political issues.