World Cup finals: Why is Qatar 2022 controversial and how to talk to your kids about it.
Posted by: Sue Atkins
The pressure is always on for parents to turn every waking moment of their children’s lives into an educational experience but I do think this controversial World Cup offers you some ‘talk and teach’ moments and not just to teach them about the world flags or where the countries are on the map!
Yes you can use pop up the grid calendar of the games and results as a writing activity but I’m really more interested in how you address human rights, migrant workers, homophobia, women’s rights, freedom of speech, truth, honesty, greed for money and how it affects people’s values.
I am a huge football fan – we have season tickets for Chelsea FC as a family for years and as my kids were growing up it was a fantastic way to stay connected with them during those often challenging years. We went to watch Chelsea women play Tottenham yesterday as I am so thrilled to see the women’s game get the credit it deserves with the Lionesses Euro win helping that along.
But I have been disappointed with David Beckham – a national hero of mine, and so many kids around the world, being reportedly paid as high as £150m working as an ambassador for Qatar.
Gary Neville is an absolutely fantastic pundit on Sky Sports but he has come under heavy criticism for pandering to Qatari State TV as he is part of the Qatar’s state-owned beIN Sports during the 2022 World Cup.
So what are the issues?
Here is a concise report from Ros Atkins (no relation) on the BBC explaining the issues that this world cup raises that is really helpful.
In times of tumultuous politics, many parents question whether they should discuss world events with their young family members, or if it’s best to just leave children out of it all together.
In previous generations, kids might have been excluded from ‘grown-up’ conversations, but with the growth of social media the NSPCC warns children are being more regularly exposed to the news and are drawing their own conclusions so it’s a good idea to’ talk and teach’ your children your way with your values and then you can openly discuss them with your older kids.
Qatar is expecting 1.5 million football fans to visit during the World Cup finals.
But the decision to host the tournament in the Gulf state has drawn widespread criticism.
What are Qatar’s laws on same-sex relationships?
Homosexual acts are illegal in Qatar because they are considered immoral under Islamic Sharia law.
Punishments include fines, prison sentences of up to seven years – and even death by stoning.
Qatar’s World Cup organisers say “everyone is welcome”, and claim no one will be discriminated against.
However, Qatar 2022 chief executive Nasser al Khater says laws on homosexuality will not change and visitors should “respect our culture”.
A recent Human Rights Watch report says Qatari security forces continue to arrest citizens who are gay, lesbian, and transgender, sometimes forcing them to undergo conversion therapy. Qatar says the report contains false allegations.
Fifa wrote to the 32 World Cup teams telling them “now focus on the football”. It said football should not be “dragged” into ideological or political “battles”.
In response, 10 European football associations – including those of England and Wales – said “human rights are universal and apply everywhere”.
England captain Harry Kane and the captains of the other nine teams involved will wear “One Love” armbands to show support for LGBTQ+ people.
How are foreign workers treated in Qatar?
An estimated 30,000 workers from countries such as India, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Philippines built facilities for the World Cup finals – including new stadiums, hotels and roads.
In February 2021, the Guardian said 6,500 workers had died in Qatar since it won its World Cup bid, using data supplied by embassies in Qatar.
However, the Qatar government said the total was misleading as it counted many foreign workers who had lived in Qatar for a long time and had not worked on World Cup projects.
Qatar’s official records show that between 2014 and 2020, there were 37 deaths among labourers at World Cup stadium construction sites, only three of which were “work-related”.
However, the International Labour Organisation says this is an underestimate. It says Qatar doesn’t count deaths from heart attacks and respiratory failure as work-related – even though these are often caused from working in high temperatures.
It estimates that 50 foreign labourers died and more than 500 others were seriously injured in Qatar in 2021 alone, and another 37,600 suffered mild to moderate injuries.
Will Qatar allow alcohol at the World Cup?
Qatar announced two days before the tournament that it will not allow sales of beer at World Cup stadiums.
Now, alcohol will only be available in designated fan zones and the bars of luxury hotels. It will cost between £10 and £12 a can, or pint.
There will also be areas where drunken fans will have to go, to sober up.
Non-alcoholic beer will still be sold at the stadiums.
Why was Qatar chosen as the World Cup host?
In 2010, Qatar clinched the rights to the World Cup after winning a ballot of Fifa’s 22 executive members, beating bids from the US, South Korea, Japan and Australia.
It is the first Arab nation to host the tournament.
Qatar was accused of paying Fifa officials £3m ($3.7m) in bribes to secure their backing, but was cleared after a two-year investigation.
At the time, Fifa’s then-chairman, Sepp Blatter, supported the bid, but now says it was a “mistake” to award the World Cup to Qatar.
How has Qatar prepared for the World Cup?
There are eight stadiums, seven of which were built for the tournament.
Some 100 new hotels have also been built, as well as a new metro system, new roads, and an extension to Hamad airport.
Qatar has also built an entire new city around the Lusail stadium, in which the final match will be played.
How hot is it in Qatar?
During the months of November and December, the temperature in Qatar is usually around 25C (77F).
Had the World Cup finals been held in June and July, as they usually are, matches would have been played in temperatures exceeding 40C, and possibly reaching 50C.
Qatar initially proposed hosting the finals during the summer in air-conditioned, enclosed stadiums, but the plan was rejected.
The World Cup is a fantastic opportunity to explore, discuss and raise awareness in your family.
It’s also a great opportunity to talk about exercise, fitness, team building skills, having dreams and goals, believing in yourself, getting back up after setbacks, disappointment and sharing family memories through watching it together.
You are likely to be on the receiving end of many questions from your children about world events due to what this World Cup throws up in headlines – why not use it to help teach tolerance, kindness, diversity, inclusion and a world with fairness?
References: BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/61635340