Qatar 2022: Sweltering heat, teetotalism and anti-gays?

December 2nd, 2010 was the date the World Cup 2018 bid team had been waiting for—decision day in Zurich. David Beckham showed his pretty face, David Cameron smarmed up proceedings and even Prince William took time away from planning his wedding to try and help England over the finishing line.

Even Eddie Afekafe, a backstreet good-for-nothing chap turned Manchester City ‘social inclusion manager’, was drafted in to give the FIFA delegates the grassroots factor angle. Allegations of corruption in FIFA were forgotten. The presentation was flawless. Football was surely coming home.


Doha, Qatar's capital city, will host World Cup games in 2022 after the Arab state were awarded the competition on Wednesday. Photo: Sam Agnew

However, Russia spoiled the party. Despite Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s no show, along with worries over fan racism and the vastness of the country, the Russians were given the go-ahead to begin work on stadiums and other infrastructure estimated to cost billions.

But it is not the outcome of the 2018 World Cup bidding process that has turned the heads of most interested onlookers.

Immediately after FIFA president Sepp Blatter removed a card with the name ‘Qatar’ on it, therefore naming them as 2022 hosts, millions worldwide pulled their most exaggerated confused faces. Lots of football followers hadn’t even heard of the oil and gas-rich Arab state. In the hour following the announcement, the search terms ‘Quatar’ and ‘Katar’ were trending on Twitter.

But there was a much more serious bewilderment that arrived as a result of FIFA’s selection of Qatar as World Cup hosts. Images of slightly intoxicated fans in fan parks have become a fixture at modern tournaments—but Qatari law makes it illegal to be drunk in a public place. Such legislation is unlikely to be popular among supporters and sponsors alike.

Also the average temperature for June and July in the country is 41 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit). Less than a month ago, a FIFA panel reported to the executive committee on the Qatari bid and stated that they saw the bid as ‘a health risk’ due to the soaring heat.

But the most critical complication surrounds laws on homosexuality. Despite claims that Qatar is one of the most liberal states in the Middle East, homosexuality remains illegal and is an offence which is punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

And as recently as June, Amnesty International released a statement which condemned it for rejecting “recommendations to review and repeal laws that discriminate against women” as well as approaches to abolish the death penalty, which still exists in the country if only for espionage and national security offences. Giving the world’s biggest sporting tournament to Qatar renders any future anti-homophobia or equal rights campaigns by Blatter and his FIFA cronies meaningless*.

It may have been a miserable year for England after failure in two World Cup competitions, but FIFA hasn’t had the best of times either and scored another own goal on Thursday afternoon. By endorsing a sweltering hot, alcohol free competition in a tiny Arab country, the organisation has taken a big risk. However by seemingly ignoring Qatar’s homophobic legislation they have sent a vicious, careless message to the ‘football family’ they talk so often about.

Iran for World Cup 2026 anybody?

*Notably, FIFA does not mention on its website whether it has been involved in any anti-homophobia campaigns.

10 Responses to Qatar 2022: Sweltering heat, teetotalism and anti-gays?

  1. Alex Blackburne says:

    Really good article. It’s a travesty that a country whose national football team is ranked by FIFA as 113th in the world can even be allowed to host the sport’s biggest tournament. Can anyone even name a Qatari footballer? Or even a Qatari football team? Didn’t think so.

  2. Ed Cottingham says:

    I have no idea what attracted FIFA to multibillionaire, oil rich Qatar.

  3. Lord says:

    Yeah, who needs womens rights or homosexuality or drunkeness?? Come on FIFA!!!! Now the Qatar team has more chances to miss open goals from one foot away.

  4. Hayley Cook says:

    “Lots of football followers hadn’t even heard of the oil and gas-rich Arab state.”

    Maybe FIFA was just trying to educate some of our football fans with some geography?

  5. Alljie says:

    maybe it’s FIFA’s way of saying enough of drunken fans and it’s time for sober fans

  6. Bradley King says:

    I’m not sure if I’m meant to sense the sarcasm in that comment but I’m not getting any. If you think FIFA want sober fans then you’re off the mark. On the contrary, they want users to consume as many products as possible during major tournaments, especially those of their partners. If Qatar had no alcohol licensing laws, it would only have increased their chances of hosting the tournament.

    The main motivation for FIFA is the main motivation for many people nowadays. Cold hard cash.

  7. “Lots of football followers hadn’t even heard of the oil and gas-rich Arab state.” Maybe FIFA was just trying to educate some of our football fans with some geography?

  8. Sheikh Khalifa Al-Thani says:

    First of all, yes I can name you Qatari football players: Hussain Yasser, Khalifan Ibrahim who was Named Asian Player of the Year in 2006 and Bilal Mohammed are 3 examples.
    Secondly Qatar’s current ranking is the worst we have ever been and it does NOT reflect Qatar’s National team, they were ranked 51st in the past. You should have some respect and do your research, if you dont know a Qatari player well guess what thats your own fault and your lack of knowledge, do your research! O ya and by the way Qatar came second in the youth World Cup in 1981 (held in Austrailia) after loosing to Germany in final in a game with heavy rainfall – conditions that Qatar were not used playing in. We defeated Brazil and England in that tournament.

  9. Bradley King says:

    With respect, I don’t think the 1981 youth World Cup has any relevance on the modern game. Where did those players end up?

    Qatar’s national team, and it’s ability, have very little to do with the uproar over it being awarded the World Cup. The real travesty is in the terrible human rights record in your country.

    No Asian Player of the Year or runners up medal in the World Youth Cup will hide that fact.

  10. Alex Blackburne says:

    Of course a Qatari person can name Qatari footballers or Qatari football teams, but I bet 99% of football fans from Europe and South America – the most successful continents in terms of international achievements – would struggle to name one of either. My point was that the World Cup – the biggest sporting event in the world – shouldn’t be going to a country with no footballing legacy. But, oh wait, you were runners-up in the 1981 Youth Cup. I stand corrected.