Qatar issues rules saying TV crews covering 2022 World Cup cannot film in areas where migrant workers live & agree they will not produce reports that are “inappropriate or offensive to the Qatari culture, Islamic principles” or face criminal liability https://t.co/Iy3nNRtXjg
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) October 15, 2022
— Defector (@DefectorMedia) October 17, 2022
… The year was 1993, the year before the World Cup came to America, and I had sold the editor of GQ, the late Art Cooper, on sending me to the Asian Zone qualifying tournament. I had sold him on the idea by telling him the teams that would be competing for the two slots to come to America. The teams were Iran, Iraq, North and South Korea, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. By my calculations, each of the competing nations had invaded, bombarded, and/or occupied one of the other competing nations over the past half-century. Throw out the record books when these traditional rivals tee it up, Jim…
This was the beginning of Qatar’s frenzied effort to become a go-to venue for international sports. Apparently, the country’s leader, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, was sports-silly. One night during the tournament, I met an English chap in the Library who’d been paid gobs of money to come and teach the sheikh how to play snooker. This was the biggest moment in his life since the day his skiffle group beat John Lennon and the Quarrymen in a battle of the bands in Liverpool. If you’re getting the impression that the Library shared very much with Rick’s Café Américain, you are not far wrong. During the tournament it was haunted by a vast assortment of godless infidels, including a massive contingent from Japan. One Japanese station had 25 people there. All of them were looking forward to a month of expense-account America, a dream that would be broken in hilarious fashion on the last night of the tournament.
Since then, of course, much has changed in Qatar. As part of the reaction to the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. largely has turned the country into an aircraft carrier. In 2010, FIFA awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar in a process that was strange and weird even by FIFA standards. Three years later, Sheikh Hamad apparently got tired of being sheikh and handed things over to his fourth son, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who is said to be as sports-nutty as his old man was.
But, over the 12 years since the 2022 tournament was granted to Qatar, the process of preparing for it has been a toxic mix of human rights violations and extravagant plutocracy. The country has spent a reported $200 billion in preparation for the event and, of course, very few (if any) Qataris did any of the actual grunt work. (An estimated 90 percent of the workforce is made up of migrant workers.) Migrants from all over the Middle East and the subcontinent came over to work, and many of them were gouged up to $4,000 by “recruiters” for the privilege. A 2021 analysis by the Guardian estimated that 6,500 of them had died on the job. Amnesty International has blown the whistle on the grotesque living conditions inflicted upon the migrant laborers; the AI report described conditions that made the Guardian‘s estimate of fatalities quite credible…