Qatar World Cup: What gets missed in the war of narratives

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DOHA, Qatar – What does it mean to wear a sleeve? At the World Cup, it could mean a clash of civilizations.

On the pitch, the match thrilled the fans with a chaotic, upset-packed match and the onslaught of non-traditional football power reaching the playoffs. But outside the venue of the World Cup, the first game in the Middle East, it was the scene of a fierce rivalry between a moral Western team and an increasingly hostile Qatari host and their Arab brothers.

Western governments, especially the teams of European countries participating in the tournament, and the media looked suspicious of the event and the oil-rich kingdom convened it. They protested against human rights and the lack of protection for workers, pointing to abuses that took place in the shadow of the Emirates’ massive World Cup construction project. And despite efforts by FIFA, the controversial governing body of football to block political gestures in the game, they have staged some protests.

That includes German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser in Qatar wearing the “One Love” T-shirt in support of LGBTQ rights, which some US and European captains eventually refused to wear for fear of being targeted. FIFA sanctions. Faeser’s gesture has been the subject of ridicule and ridicule in Qatar and the region, with some prominent commentators commenting less on the change than commenting on the threats facing the LGBTQ and the minority. More is an act of greatnessDetached from the reality of these societies.

The German national team also protested, taking pre-match photos with their own hands, a clear message to FIFA authorities that would shut them up. But the first departure of the team then caused The chaos of ridicule On social media and Arab television.

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Families of dead migrant workers in Qatar await answers

Hot rhetoric also exists in front of others. Halfway through the game, social media was still commenting on what was described as “modern slavery”, which gave Qatar its bright stadium and new infrastructure. Over the years, human rights groups and labor advocacy groups have documented widespread shortages and abuses not only in Qatar but in the vast Gulf region where millions of migrant workers have left. From living sometimes in miserable and vulnerable situations to exploitation by employers and recruiters.

But Qatar’s outcry against the World Cup seems to have overthrown the Emirati authorities as a vicious pharaoh, urging the talks to build their own bright pyramid. The death toll has claimed the lives of thousands of workers at a Qatari rally, a figure that Qatari officials have categorically dismissed as inaccurate and misleading and not confirmed by the International Labor Organization. United Nations.

My co-workers reported last month that “Qatar has partially disputed the death toll, insisting that work on infrastructure other than the World Cup venue is not game-related.” Tells the story of an Indian man who died after work. In Qatar’s construction site. “It also implements measures that groups and human rights say are important and will better protect workers if they “They are fully implemented.”

Those reforms include a new centralized electronic system to control payments between private companies and their migrant workers, wage increases and other steps to provide greater mobility to workers whose status in the country is dependent on Wanted by their employer. There are signs of progress.

The Post’s Monkey Cage blog explains that “practical changes include raising the requirement for workers to be allowed to leave Qatar and obtain a non-objection certificate before changing employers.” More than 300,000 foreign workers changed jobs between September 2020 and March 2022, according to ILO data. In addition, 13 percent of Qatar’s workforce has seen their base wage increase after the non-discriminatory minimum wage was implemented in 2021. “The new law in 2021 will reduce the number of hours employers can handle outside work during the summer months, an additional change to protect the health and safety of workers.”

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Hosts World Cup in small Qatar

Rights groups say more needs to be done to protect workers from exploitation and ensure that new policies are adequately implemented in most of the country’s private sector.. But for Zahra Babar, deputy director of the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University’s Qatar and a longtime researcher on offshore migration issues, the polar dialogue around the World Cup Little has been done to promote a real understanding of the complexities of what local migrants face and the lives they lead. (You can get a photo of this complexity in the podcast series produced by Babar’s show featuring the voices of migrants in Qatar.)

“Telling the stories of heroes and villains really did not help,” Babar said, adding that the voice of Western criticism could even tackle the hard-line Qatari attitude toward many local migrants. In their center.

Talk of Western hypocrisy and double standards is abundant in Doha. In conversations I had with Qatari officials and other Arab commentators, I heard references to how Europe looked as far as thousands of migrants drowned in the Mediterranean. For abuses documented in the US program to bring low-skilled agricultural workers to work on US farms. For the indifference of the West when it is confronted with its legacy of imperial exploitation and later support for various dictatorships in developing countries. For disrespecting European officials who publicly denounced Qatari society and so on, privately pursuing economic interests with Doha Both major gas agreements.

When I suggested that some of these arguments could be interpreted as “whataboutism”, an official pushed back, insisting that it was a relevant context to look at Qatar’s place in the world and its struggle in Thinking with the speed of change. The population of this small country has more than quadrupled in less than two decades, largely involving the massive influx of new migrant workers.

According to Babar, the system exists everywhere in the world, not just Qatar – for low-skilled migrant workers is “oriented towards the use and abuse of cheap cadres” whose lives They are constantly plagued by uncertainty. She argues that for a particular focus on Qatar during the World Cup, the conditions for migrants here are not unique.

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In addition to its efforts to reform its labor sector, Qatar also sees the World Cup as an opportunity to attract different types of tourists. While nearby Dubai has established itself as a destination for Westerners, Doha could be a popular destination for tourists from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Up to 1.5 million people are expected to visit Qatar during the World Cup. After the tournament, Qatar will offer visa-free entry to people from more than 95 countries. It is a generous regime beyond what the United States or the countries in the Schengen area of ​​Europe offer.

Ali Al-Ansari, a Qatar’s correspondent in the United States, said: “Qatar has long been a world tourist destination, connecting the East and the West, making the game accessible to many fans. “Who has never had the opportunity to participate in the World Cup before.” .

Ease of access and access – Cheap flights to the Gulf, a major air travel hub from parts of Asia and Africa – happened in my conversation with a fan. The team from Ghana before their trip to see their country fall out of the match against Uruguay on Friday.

“It is very easy to come here. “Qatar is the perfect place to host the World Cup,” said Joe Mensah, an electrical engineer from Kumasi.

Mensah’s colleague John Appiah from Accra said he arrived in Qatar with “specific perceptions” of Arab racism and the persecution of foreigners. “But my treatment here is amazing.”

Appiah added that he wanted to visit the United States for the 2026 World Cup, but said he believed getting a visa could be a trick. “I do not know if they wanted me to come,” he said.



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