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World Cup 2022: Why Activist Protests for Qatar Have Been Intensified

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Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘When Injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.’ And what is our duty as civilians, brothers, sisters, friends, parents and activists? As the World Cup dwells upon us, with our cold summer beers replaced by hot steaming coffees, we cannot help but look back at events that have rocked 2022, the World Cup, and the response from the world as a whole. 

While we read about how to get around gamstop to place our bets on the biggest football tournament in the world, protests across the globe have intensified, with many football fans opting to boycott the contest altogether. Today we look at why activists are protesting against the Qatar World Cup and why these protests are so meaningful and instrumental in shaping future football tournaments. 

Human Rights Violations in  Qatar

As Qatar built stadium after stadium in readiness for the Fifa World Cup, many reports emerged of human rights violations.  Talk about poor conditions work was circulating, and the 6500 deaths, as revealed by The Guardian, did not go down well with the international community. Loss of life at the cost of building luxury football villages is not what the world wants. We all enjoyed a fun football event; however, little did we all know that migrants from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan endured constant hot temperatures and lack of safety, with many deaths being recorded.  This saw Qatar as the center of backlash, protest and football followers unfollowing the Qatar World Cup as it unfolds. 

Football teams also held their own protests, with teams such as Netherlands and Norway wearing sweatshirts with logos that read: Human Rights. On and off the pitch. 

Masha Amini murder and protest against Iran

Iran has been in the headlines for many years, as it goes proper to constant political turmoil. The country is accused of denying ordinary people fundamental human rights and oppression of women in a male-dominated culture. Earlier this year, a barrage of protests erupted over Iran following the sudden death of Masha Amini while she was away in police custody.  Arrested for defying Iran’s strict country rules of wearing a hijab, Amini passed away, with her father stating no underlying medical conditions crushed the young woman.

Amini’s death filled several protests across Iran, with outrage at the outdated laws and usage of force by the elite of Iran. The Qatari World Cup, a football event doomed with politics, has seen women don an Iran National T-shirt. The shirt’s number 22, the age Amini perished written on the back, along with Amini’s name. The young woman also painted blood tears on her face with a companion holding a banner that read: Woman. Life. Freedom. 

The Italian Falcon: Mario Ferri 

It feels like we were back in the 90s when Mario Ferri jumped into the pitch and ran like a mania during Uruguay vs. Portugal match. Ferri, branding himself as Robin Hood 2.0, wore a Superman top with Save Ukraine at the front and Freedom for Iranian Women written at the back. Ferri also wanted to make another political statement, running with the Rainbow Pride Flag, a taunt to Qatar’s non-gay-friendly rules and laws. 

What people need to know is that Ferri is familiar with making just yet political statements. During the 2014 World Cup, Ferri also stormed the football ground during the USA vs. Belgium match. This time he wore ‘Save the children of the favelas’ and ‘Ciro Vive’, paying tribute to a Napoli football fan who lost his life before the event’s kick-off. 

One Love Diversity Campaign 

Discrimination is a hard pill to swallow. We all fought for it at one stage or another during our lifetime. Months before the World Cup started in Qatar, the Netherlands football team launched a One Love Diversity Campaign. The goal of the campaign was/is to “send a message against discrimination of any kind as the eyes of the world fall on the global game.’’ Other teams such as Denmark, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Wales, Germany and Switzerland all joined the cause and vowed to wear the One Love armbands during the football matches in Qatar. 

While Qatar adopts strict stances against diversity, World Football Captains vowed to wear the armbands, silently opposing the Qatari and world anti-gay friendly political position. Qatar’s government raised its concerns with FIFA, fighting the armbands with the LGBTQ Rainbow flag. The latter ultimately advised captains who wore the armband would be punished with a Yellow Card before the game commenced. 

Not such a good look for FIFA, which always ‘strives’ to promote a diverse culture across the board. This time, it has failed. 

Banning of Beer Sales

Many fans like to drink while watching footie with their pals occasionally.  Many go to the pub to have a pint or two while watching their favorite football team playoff.  Like ketchup and fries go together, so do beer and football. Although alcohol is banned in Qatar, the debate on beer consumption at the stadiums was always up for discussion in the last 12 years as the country has been preparing to host the tournament. The host nation tried to avoid scrutiny when beer sales were banned at football stadiums a few days before the event, sending shockwaves across the international football community. 

Fifa defended the ultra-conservative middle eastern country, yet adding fuel to the anti-liberal world 2022 has been. 

All eyes are on Brazil

Protests will be heard until the 2022 Qatar World Cup takes its natural course. The war in Ukraine still needs to be resolved. LGTBQ and women’s rights across the globe are also on the decline, and there is only one thing to do. As a community, as a whole, and as a generation, we have various platforms, and if sports is that platform, we will continue to use it to advocate for what is right. To prevail justice and facilitate sports to keep doing so.

Activism in sports is a must, with Brazil, the following host country, hopefully taking note.