World Cup Players and Supporters Speak Out on Qatar’s Policies


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Protesters shined a light on Qatar’s treatment of workers and the LGBTQIA+ community during the World Cup 2022.

Every four years, the World Cup is a beautiful sight to see. 32  countries compete for the biggest trophy in the world, and dozens of iconic moments are created. Each country is backed by millions of passionate fans. Although every year has been beautiful in its own right, the World Cup this year hasn’t been as beautiful. It has been a danger for the workers and the fans. This year’s World Cup in Qatar has been as controversial as the World Cup has ever been.

Allegations of Bribery

The World Cup 2022 in Qatar has been under scrutiny since its announcement in 2010. Many people suspected FIFA and other ambassadors (including French legend Michel Platini) of having been bribed to let the Middle Eastern country host the world’s most popular sporting event. Speaking to the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, former FIFA president Sepp Blatter—who was forced to leave FIFA due to scandals— admitted that “Qatar is a mistake.” 

Treatment of Migrant Workers

The issues don’t stop there. There has been lots of anger over the Middle Eastern nation’s treatment of migrant workers who have helped to build the stadiums and hotels that would be used during the World Cup. Because Qatar isn’t a major footballing country, they had to build up stadiums to fit the capacity that hosting a World Cup demands. 

According to NPR’s Special Series on the World Cup, more than 90% of the labor force in Qatar are migrant workers, many coming from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and India in order to support their families back home. Many, however, never had the opportunity to go back home. The story “Why Qatar is a controversial host for the World Cup” cites a 2021 investigation by the Guardian, which found that “more than 6,500 migrant workers from five South Asian countries had died in Qatar since 2010 from causes including workplace accidents, car crashes, suicides, and deaths from other causes, including the heat.” 

The conditions that these people work in are very poor, and there are obviously many heat issues in the Middle East. Unfortunately, Qatar has failed to address these issues, saying that all but three of the workers died of “non-work related issues.” This meant that their families did not receive any compensation. 

LGBTQ+ Issues

Perhaps the most well-publicized controversy was about Qatar’s treatment of the LGBTQ+ community.  

PinkNews stated that “In Qatar, LGBTQ+ people face persecution, imprisonment, and even death.” 

These laws could be leveled against anyone entering the country, including World Cup spectators and even athletes. PinkNews indicated that Qatar’s laws could result in arbitrary arrests and allow them to detain people without a trial. 

The lack of empathy by the Qatari government and the FIFA Association has made life for many people a major inconvenience. 

“I think Qatar shouldn’t be oppressing LGBTQ+ communities, supporters, and people!” exclaimed 8th grader Eymen C. Eyman believes freedom of expression is an important human right.

Players and fans responded strongly to these issues, though. The U.S. Soccer Association changed their typical red and white stripes to rainbow Pride colors on their symbol, and Wales fans wore rainbow bucket hats. 

The players also responded accordingly, with guidance from the organization OneLove. The goal of OneLove is to use the power and global audience of football to send out a message that promotes inclusivity and objects to all forms of discrimination, according to GOAL. 

England’s Harry Kane, Mexico’s Guillermo Ochoa, the Netherlands’ Virgil van Dijk, and Wales’ Gareth Bale were joined by many other captains wearing this armband. 

Before their matches, FIFA threatened to give out a yellow card to players wearing the armband but didn’t follow through on this threat. The threat, however, caused some concern, and some teams did not participate in the OneLove campaign for fear of repercussions.  Two yellow cards in one match lead to a red card which means an automatic dismissal from the match.   

The Germany National Team was one of the most important and interesting teams to participate in the OneLove program. The players notably refused to show their mouths in the pre-match team photo. 

According to NPR, “Germany’s players covered their mouths for their team photo before their opening World Cup match in an apparent rebuke of FIFA’s clampdown on plans to wear armbands to protest discrimination in host nation Qatar.”  The gesture was symbolic of being silenced on the issue.


Overall, while the World Cup has been a glittering spectacle for fans all across the world, there have been underlying controversies that have taken away the joy for so many others. Qatar 2022 will come to an end on Sunday, December 18th, and could have potentially ruined the reputation of FIFA’s officials for so much longer.