The dictatorship of Qatar is a convenient place for the World Cup organizers, because Fifa has a lot in common with it, says the professor

The dictatorship of Qatar is a convenient place for the

The men’s World Cup kicks off on Sunday in Qatar. The country is a special place for football games for many reasons – but not least because Qatar’s own football culture is largely defined by its absence.

– What football culture? By this I mean that there is no basis. In Qatar, teams are assembled by buying foreign players to play, says the professor of political history Vesa Vares from the University of Turku.

According to Vares, Arab countries could also find countries with a real football culture, such as Saudi Arabia or Egypt. However, Qatar is a convenient place for the organizing body Fifa to organize the games, for extremely stupid reasons.

– After all, Fifa is also a bit like an authoritarian-led organization.

According to Vares, similarities with dictatorships can be found, for example, in terms of the source of income. Football’s prestigious competitions and organizations are to Fifa what oil reserves are to Qatar: commodities for which it doesn’t have to do anything terribly. It is easy to understand the philosophy of the oil sheiks’ empires for Fifa, which is managed from above.

– In countries like Qatar, the budget spike and money taps for Fifa are open, while protests by security or environmental activists that disrupt the games are kept strictly under control, says Vares.

Migrant workers are the largest population group in Qatar

The demographic structure of Qatar, located on the edge of the Persian Gulf, is confusing: of the country’s approximately 2.6 million inhabitants, only 300,000 are native Qataris. The sunken elite of this population have made a huge fortune with the country’s abundant oil and gas reserves.

The rest of Qatar’s population is foreign labor, largely from South Asia, the Philippines and Egypt.

These foreigners, working in horrible working conditions and working conditions, are largely responsible for the country’s preparations for the competition, which cost around 200 billion euros and lasted more than ten years. They have not been limited to brand new stadiums, but highways, race villages, bridges and metro lines have been built for race tourists.

– Qatar is building infrastructure so that, thanks to the attention of the competition, it can continue to function as a conference and prestigious competition venue, says Kaari MattilaSecretary General of the Human Rights Association.

Mattila has been to Qatar to follow the competition preparations. The rights of migrant workers such as construction workers and domestic helpers are violated and they are subjected to mental, physical and sexual violence.

In scorching weather, excessively long days are worked when the salary payment is realized in varying degrees. A huge number of foreign workers have lost their lives at the construction sites of the Games, although there are disagreements about the exact numbers.

However, according to Mattila, all of this is already clear in the public eye.

– The mistreatment of workers has already been brought to light. Western hero journalists don’t need to bring it up by looking for exploited workers for their broadcasts, for them this can be risky.

Mattila says that the responsibility now lies with human rights organizations and other international actors.

Small improvements, much to be desired

Organizing the games has also led to changes. A reporter on site in the capital Doha Sampo Vaarakallion According to

However, how these laws are implemented or enforced is a different matter. According to Vaarakallio, human rights are an issue that has been brought up mainly by European journalists in the run-up to the Games in Qatar, while African and Asian countries are focusing on the sporting event.

– According to the Qatari government, the human rights complaints are about a smear campaign. Here, in public, human rights are not discussed, but the joy and sense of celebration of the Games are brought out, Vaarakallio says.

With the Games, we will see how freely media representatives can act on the spot.

– The blocking of the Danish journalist’s report came into great consideration, Vaarakallio says from Doha.

In the case from the beginning of the week, a journalist from the Danish public broadcasting company Rasmus Tantholdt was doing a live broadcast on the streets of Doha, when representatives of the organizing company, who drove up to the place in a golf cart, forbade him to film and took his camera.

More recently, Tantholdt has said that he received an apology from the authorities for what happened.

One could assume that being the target of all this attention would force Qatar to develop in a more open direction after the Games at the latest. However, according to the Human Rights Association’s Mattila, this has never happened before.

– For a long time it was thought that value competitions in such authoritarian countries could help the human rights situation. Based on research, this is the opposite, and this mostly affects countries where human rights movements and trade unions are banned.

According to Mattila, the contests mainly boost the image of authoritarian leaders in the home country and the surrounding area.

– This is what I want to discuss: what message will be confirmed at such games?

So, like the Chinese Winter Olympics, there is not a “big sports festival feeling” in the air, but uncertainty and conflicting messages.

Vares of the University of Turku, for example, plans to follow the games.

– Yes, there will be some viewing, but the own enthusiasm and hype is missing. Already four years ago, you had to watch the Russian Games with a laundry boy on your nose, says Vares.

You can discuss the topic on 19.11. until 11 p.m.

Read more:

Ten charter flights a day and luxury accommodation on cruise ships – this is how Qatar plans to cope with the flood of one and a half million Kisaturists

Qatar polishes its image, but building the World Cup took thousands of lives – Narayan Dhoj saw a colleague fall from the fifth floor

Comment: Why am I not boycotting the World Cup in Qatar?