Trivia 045: A football fiasco

Unfortunately, last week I was doing a significant amount of traveling last week for work and the holiday weekend, and didn’t really have the time (read: energy) to post my normal trivia. But don’t worry, I’ll be making up for it with extra posts.

For the past few years, FIFA (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association) has been under fire for the rampant corruption displayed by their upper management. The bribes accepted by their board members resulted in the 2018 World Cup being held in Russia, and the current 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Both are authoritarian countries seeking to legitimize their regimes, and both are willing to spend large amounts of money in shady ways. As a result, the current World Cup is now being held in a country which has never qualified for the World Cup, and is too hot to play football in during the summer. Because Qatar only had one large stadium prior to being awarded the 2022 World Cup, they have since spent over $200 billion on new infrastructure specifically for this event.

While it has been amusing to watch FIFA scramble for solutions after Qatar banned the sale of beer, thus putting a huge Budweiser sponsorship on the rocks, there are other issues which are less amusing. In order to build the infrastructure necessary to host the event, Qatar used hundreds of thousands of migrant workers. These workers had to endure 14+ hour workdays, working in 100+ degree heat, all for extremely low wages (if any). And these migrant workers were essentially trapped in the country due to the way Qatar allows employers to basically control whether or not a migrant can stay or leave. While exact figures are obscured by Qatar’s lack of transparency, it is estimated that several hundred workers died building the new stadiums for the World Cup.

Visitors to the World Cup, and the teams themselves, are learning first hand how oppressive Qatar’s rule can be. Perhaps the most visible form of this has been about the usage of rainbow flags and apparel. The rainbow flag is a symbol of LGBTQ rights, and Qatar has a notoriously poor record on this front. FIFA doubled down on this, even threatening to issue yellow cards to players wearing rainbow armbands. However, after pushback by players and fans who were denied entrance or had items confiscated, FIFA “received assurances by authorities” that people would be allowed to display rainbow apparel.

Hopefully, FIFA will be learning their lesson from all of this. Several sponsors and companies have already decided to cut ties with the Association following these events. It’s easy for me to say “don’t watch the World Cup” because I wouldn’t watch it anyways. But I know that for many people, the World Cup represents the pinnacle of one of the world’s most popular sports. But let’s not forget the suffering that has occurred and is occuring in Qatar (and in Russia before this) to make this event a reality. This year’s World Cup has shown a spotlight on the corruption of FIFA and the human right’s abuses of Qatar. It’s important to recognize this, because Qatar hopes to use events like this to make their presence felt on the world stage. By facing this and reminding people of it, we can make countries and organizations realize that their ploys will not work.

If you know anyone who would like to receive these, please have them send an email to [email protected]. And if you’ve also been caught taking bribes, let me know and I can take you off the list.

I’ll be posting another trivia tomorrow, and a third the following day, then I will be all caught up.

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