The world’s biggest extravaganza, the quadrennial (four-yearly) FIFA World Cup, has begun in Qatar. It’s been 12 years since it was announced that this year’s World Cup (2022) would be held in Qatar – a country with a population of a little below three million people which follows tough Islamic law.
This particular World Cup, has unfortunately been dogged by controversy. Rather unfortunately in the West, more particularly in Europe, many have tried to bury the event under a storm of controversy accusing the host nation of disgraceful working conditions inflicted on migrant workers, its human rights record, deprivation of women’s rights and mistreatment of people in gay relationships. Some even question FIFA for permitting Iran to compete at the tournament.
O tempora, O mores, what hypocrisy! Haven’t other event-hosting nations had even worse human rights records?
In 1934, Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime in Italy and in 1978, the brutal Argentine dictatorship hosted the event with the blessings of FIFA. In 1950 Switzerland, a small nation and the mother nation of ‘money laundering’ so-to-say, hosted the World Cup. Even worse in 1994, the World Cup was hosted by the US.
Yet, just two decades earlier, the US used chemical weapons in its war against the Vietnamese people. Vietnam estimated as many as 2,000,000 civillians and some 1,100,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong fighters were killed.
Even worse, the US remains the only country in the world to have used atomic weapons on purely civillian targets – the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.The explosions immediately killed an estimated 80,000 people in Hiroshima. Tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure. Three days later, a second B-29 dropped another A-bomb on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 people, according to history.com.
Western nations accuse Qatar of disgraceful working conditions inflicted on workers who built the tournament’s infrastructure. Unfortunately, these nations which present themselves as ‘citadels of democracy, human rights and workers rights’ tend to overlook their own role regarding workers’ rights. They easily overlook the slave trade – where hundreds of thousands of African men, women and children were encircled and forcibly transported to the US to work as slaves on plantations in the US and the Caribbean. They choose to forget Britain shipped thousands of desperately poor Tamils from South India to create tea plantations in Lanka’s hill country. The workers had no quarters when they reached the cold hill country.
Thousands of these ‘migrant workers’ died of cold and malaria. They were also paid slave wages. When ‘housing’ was ultimately provided, two to three families shared a 12 x 2 ft room, and worse with no running water or toilet facilities.
Despite their own culpability, high flyers and cheap political leaders of these nations continue to point the finger at other countries, not acknowledging past crimes and refusing to recompense countries and people who continue to suffer their rapacious deeds.
We do not condone exploitation of labour, infringement of women’s rights or suppression of LGBT groups. But cannot feel, based on facts, the strident condemnation of Qatar stems from jealousy at that small nation’s riches.
For instance, Qatar had a GDP per capita of $124,100 as of 2017, while in United Kingdom, the GDP per capita is $44,300 as of 2017.
The economy of Qatar is one of the richest in the world based on GDP per capita, ranking generally among the top ten richest countries on world rankings for 2015 and 2016 as per data compiled by the World Bank, the United Nations, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). We do not deny that housing conditions provided to migrant workers in Qatar are not of the highest quality. They definitely leave much to be desired.
Sadly, the world economic system forces the poorer classes to accept these conditions. What is sad is that the US and the West while blaming Qatar, do not offer hope to the suffering masses in Africa and Asia which forces them to seek greener pastures in lands, believed to ‘flow with milk and honey’. The present migrants’ drownings off the coast of Britain and Europe, and the incarcerating of Latin American migrants desperately seeking employment in these US smacks of the pot calling the kettle names.
Let’s cut the crap. It cannot be right for World’s Richest 1% to own twice as much as the bottom 90% as Oxfam International reports.Instead of blaming one nation or the other, let’s try to spread Earth’s resources more equitably.
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