Controversies of the Qatar World Cul

“FIFA knew what was happening there and didn’t take any action against the abuse, and that’s where it’s problematic,” a UNIS student states regarding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Every four years, the International Federation of Association Football, or FIFA, hosts the World Cup, in which national soccer teams from around the world compete to win the admiration of soccer fans around the world, as well as the World Cup trophy.

This year, though, heated reactions and commentary seem to stem from more than just bad referee calls. Much of the criticism stems from FIFA choosing Qatar as the location for the 2022 World Cup, despite the country’s repeated violations of human rights such as mistreatment of migrant workers, and oppression of women and the LGBTQ community. Some have attempted to take action by protesting the FIFA-Qatari alliance; however, endeavors have not been received well. According to The Guardian, one man running across the field waving a Pride flag was promptly removed and had his admission revoked.

Activism like this has pushed UNIS students themselves to question whether Qatar’s actions are justifiable.

UNIS students have voiced their concerns regarding the questionable values that Qatar represents and the violations of human rights during the construction of these stadiums. 90% of the Qatari workforce is composed of migrants who have been exploited and mistreated and this has resulted in the deaths of 400 to 500 migrants during the construction of the stadiums. Since 2010, these migrant workers have been living in poor working conditions in which their wages are unpaid or delayed and consisting of long hours in the heat, often without water. Workers live in cramped and dirty spaces with 8-12 men per room, despite Qatari law allowing for a maximum of four beds per room.
During the summer of 2022, one migrant worker died per day on average, usually due to a sudden heart attack or workplace accident. The living conditions of these migrants are another appalling aspect that Qatar submits them to. When asked about their opinion on the unethical working conditions of migrants, one UNIS student stated, “FIFA preaches the values of the UN, but indirectly supports slavery. I think it’s unethical.” Furthermore, the Qatari government is prohibiting these migrants from leaving the country in order to continue taking advantage of their labor. Their passports were confiscated upon arrival, requiring an “exit permit” approved by their company if they wish to leave the country. While Qatar is one of the richest countries per capita, it is still taking advantage of some of the poorest by using their citizens for unethical labor, not allowing them to return home, simply for the purpose of a sporting tournament.

Qatar is also infamously known for its brutal stance against the LGBTQ community, as same-sexual relations are prohibited with the risk of either imprisonment or in some cases even the death penalty. Discrimination and violence towards the LGBTQ community in Qatar is common, though few are open about their identities due to fear of punishment. FIFA’s decision to hold the World Cup in Qatar has many people, especially members of the LGTBQ and migrant communities, wondering what this implies. However, some FIFA officials, such as FIFA President Gianni Infantino, argue that the soccer community should not “allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists”.

Recently, the Qatari government has proposed to deny the entry of LGBTQ travelers into the country, and even proposed “health centers conduct medical checks on travelers in which their sexual orientation could allegedly be detected.” Before the commencement of the World Cup, Human Rights Watch reported that Qatari police forces arbitrarily arrested supposed LGBTQ people and sent them to detention centers where they allegedly endured severe abuse. When asked about Qatar’s brutal anti-LGBTQ stance , one student wrote, “active homophobia is excusable if you pay enough.” Another UNIS student explains how she feels, stating, “The human rights of LGBTQ people shouldn’t have less value than a soccer game. I understand for FIFA this is about money, but this all feels really telling about their values.” FIFA officials’ continuous attempts to avoid taking accountability and insistence that this will be “A World Cup like no other,” has only contributed to the global outrage. Another UNIS student explains, “We can’t necessarily condone Qatar, but we can condone FIFA,” as FIFA is supposed to be an organization that unifies all countries through their love for soccer.

As the UN school, we stand for the UN values which are human rights oriented, which explains why UNIS students have become vocal in their concerns regarding this situation. Qatar has clearly violated fundamental rights, through the verbal and physical abuse towards both migrant workers and the LGBTQ community; fundamentals which UNIS students and many others around the world stand for.

This will definitely be “A World Cup like no other” but perhaps not for the reasons FIFA had hoped for.

Thurston, Andrew. “Should You Watch the 2022 FIFA World Cup despite Host Qatar’s ‘Serious Human Rights Problems’?” Boston University, 15 Nov. 2022,
“Qatar World Cup of Shame.” Amnesty International,
“Revealed: Qatar’s World Cup ‘Slaves’.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 25 Sept. 2013,
Qatar. Human Dignity Trust. (2022, November 18). Retrieved December 6, 2022, from
Rob Harris, S. N. (2022, November 4). Qatar World Cup: FIFA writes to teams and says ‘focus on the football… not ideological or political battle that exists’. Sky Sports. Retrieved December 12, 2022;from