Andrew McClean & Matt Squires
The 2022 World Cup is to be controversially held in Qatar. FIFA’s decision to host football’s largest competition has repeatedly come under fire amid growing concerns over workers’ conditions and suggestions that it could be a winter event despite the competition traditionally being held in the summer.
Qatar is currently in the middle of constructing its ambitious stadiums. If the images of the proposed stadiums are anything to go by, then they will be an engineering masterpiece and Qatar would boast the most spectacular venues since Beijing’s Birdnest.
However, these grandiose plans have not masked the reality of constructers’ conditions in Qatar. Two German filmmakers were arrested last week by Qatari police as they filmed the conditions of labourers working on the World Cup’s infrastructure. The sensitivity of the topic is obviously felt throughout Qatar as the authorities seem to be taking a firm approach to critics.
Working conditions have come under fire as four migrant labourers have reportedly died from ‘heart-related issues or workplace accidents’. There are also reports of passports being confiscated from Nepalese workers to limit their movements after salaries were also detained.
FIFA have expressed concern and an investigation is being led by the Qatari government.
Brighton and Hove Albion have several players that could make the finals in 2022, but the Seagulls’ managerial staff will have concerns for their players as playing conditions are also under scrutiny.
Although the conditions that the players will have to compete in are, understandably, of high concern, it is not the only issue that FIFA face regarding the Qatar World Cup Finals.
In order to combat the impossible working conditions of players, one solution that has been suggested would see the tournament moved from the summer months to the winter period of 2022.
While this would solve, to a certain extent, the worries currently surrounding the health and safety of both players and spectators by taking place in a cooler atmosphere, it conjures up other issues regarding domestic competitions in European football.
Several leagues, including Spain’s La Liga and the English Premier League, would have to undergo a substantial break in play in order to accommodate an international tournament in the winter.
Not only would this interrupt the ever-important schedule of televised games (an issue that could, potentially, leave several leagues considerably poorer in terms of money), it could also have a knock on effect for players’ health. If the players of a national side are forced to fit both a league and international campaign into a relatively short period of time, a likely outcome would see said players becoming susceptible to exhaustion and potentially long and short term injuries.
The idea of a World Cup competition being held in Qatar in 2022, as time goes on, is becoming more and more akin to a pipe dream. However, with FIFA’s decision to officially hand over the hosting duties to the Arab country and the issues that has raised, the subject of a Qatar tournament has already become a nightmare.