WTF Is Happening to the FIFA World Cup? Here's the Lowdown

It’s what the world anxiously awaits every four years. A tournament that brings the world together through sport and spirit, whether you care about soccer or not. But soccer enthusiasts and public bystanders alike have been bombarded this week with news of the tumultuous state of affairs for FIFA and the impending 2022 World Cup in Qatar. With so much going on in such rapid succession, we’re here to break down just what the hell is going on in the now hectic world of soccer.

The Arrest of FIFA Officials

Early morning on Wednesday, May 27th, the FBI, who have been building their case against FIFA officials since 2013, struck out in surprise, arresting nine members of FIFA, including the organization’s sitting vice-president Jeffrey Webb, and four executives of sports management companies from their luxury hotel in Zurich, Switzerland. The jailed parties were charged with bribery, fraud, and money laundering in relation to deals involving sponsorship, the upcoming FIFA presidential election, and the selection process for the World Cup. In layman’s terms, all sorts of shady deals went down behind closed doors that, according to FBI data, resulted in a sum of over $150 million ending up in pockets where it should never have arrived. This implies that the reelection of FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who has officially resigned from his post hours before this article’s publishing, and the selection of Qatar for the 2022 World Cup were decisions made entirely outside the law. That said, the FBI has released a statement promising that this “is only the beginning.” Watch out bad boys, they’re coming for you.

Human Rights Devastation in Qatar

As if the questionable circumstances in which Qatar has won the bid to host the World Cup in 2022 weren’t enough, the information surrounding the human rights issues in preparing for the international event is absolutely horrifying. A recent report by the Guardian revealed a disturbing statistic of a death rate of one every two days in 2014. Some of the Nepalese fatalities have been recorded as workplace accidents, while some are cardiac arrests as a result of working for long hours in high temperatures. Though the number of deaths of Nepalese employees reaches the hundreds, these figures exclude the Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi workers that are also employed in building the infrastructure, with some reporting total casualties amounting up to over one thousand. The 2022 host country has been exposed of severe labor violations with its mistreatment of workers, such as inhumane living conditions and passport seizing. In light of recent revelations, Qatar vows to reform much of its accusations.

Issues with Domestic Competitions

Traditionally, the world cup takes place in the summertime. That custom has been broken and met with criticism, as Qatar hosting a winter World Cup to accommodate for its climate conditions in the summer conflicts with several world leading leagues domestic competitions. The concerns not only include accommodating winter breaks for the players, but also the challenging task of scheduling national team preparation before the tournament. Leagues could have to shorten their breaks, while some could even be forced to re-plan their entire soccer calendar. Germany, England and Australia are among the many leagues that will struggle to accommodate for the 2022 tournament, being forced to overhaul their schedules that have been routine for decades.

The Art World’s Stinging Response

Like most responses to political upheaval in recent history, criticism of the upcoming World Cup is being expressed through art. Artists are voicing strong disapproval of the human rights violations to do with migrant workers constructions for the upcoming championship. Multinational corporations, such as Adidas, Coca-Cola, and Budweiser, sponsor the international tournament. The series of these graphic art pieces target these corporations by mocking their logos and slogans. One of the graphics presents McDonalds’ iconic golden arches as whip-like structures, along with the words “proud sponsor of human rights abuses in Qatar.” Another takes a swing at Budweiser’s slogan “the King of Beers” and replaces it with “you can’t be the king without slaves.”

With several years still to come before this tournament, we hope to see FIFA get it together soon.

Artists submitted all images to Reddit’s sports page

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