Corruption and Controversy Plague 2022 World Cup


Every four years the World Cup brings nations together to cheer on their team, but this year the event has sparked controversy and conversation.

The 2022 World Cup, hosted in Doha, Qatar, has gathered billions of views from all over the world since it began in November. Some of the attention has been negative due to the values of the host country. The Qatari government is fully and openly against same-sex marriage.  An article of their current penal code threatens “imprisonment between one and three years for sodomy between men.” These laws caught the attention of many who felt uneasy with such a mainstream event occurring in Qatar.

In 2010, Qatar beat the United States, Australia, South Korea, and Japan in a battle of who would host the World Cup.  The decision from FIFA came as a shock to many since at the time, the Middle Eastern nation seemed like an unreasonable location.  One concern was that the country had extremely warm weather conditions which would make it difficult for the players.  But the biggest concern was their lack of stadiums.  Beginning in 2011, Qatar got to work in building seven new stadiums for the 2022 World Cup at an estimated total cost of around $10 billion.

But what cost them the most were the 400-500 confirmed deaths of the workers, although it is suspected that over 7,000 people were injured or died in the construction.

The event itself is one of the biggest stages in sports history, but this year there has been more negativity surrounding it than past years.  Same sex marriage, however, is not the only political agenda on the table, with both Iran and the United States asking for the opposing team to be thrown out of the competition.

Senior Max Fujimori is upset with how the soccer tournament has become a background for controversy that has nothing to do with the sport.

“I really wish soccer didn’t have to be a venue for political statements,” Max, a member of the Williston Soccer team, said.

He also highlighted how corrupt both FIFA and Qatar are, especially in the deal that allowed their bid to win, which has made him not as shocked with the treatment fans have seen so far.

“Qatar’s stance and treatment of fans and players wearing pride flags, etc, should have been expected” he said.  “[The tournament] should have never been in a country that is so hostile and unwelcoming to any group of people,”.

“I think the homophobia we are seeing should be condemned, but we also shouldn’t expect Qatar to be behaving differently than they are,” he added.

FIFA and Qatari officials have instated strict rules against LGBTQ+ merchandise being allowed inside or near the venues.  This includes the famous “One Love” armbands that captains from England and at least five other countries were expected to wear.  In a statement, FIFA wrote that players wearing any bands besides the ones they were given, would be given a yellow card. No players ended up wearing the armbands.

Boys Soccer Captain Luke Ballard was surprised when FIFA announced these rules.

“Players should be able to represent ideas that they believe in,” he said.Qatar did agree to let players have rainbow armbands.  Never in past World Cups has this been an issue.”

Other controversies have arisen since the start of the series of matches.  In their first appearance, the Iranian National team refused to sing their National Anthem, showing solidarity with the protests that have overcome the Middle Eastern country.  In recent days however, Iranian officials have threatened the teams’ families for their behavior on the field.

One man, who is being called a “pitch invader,” stormed the field wearing a pride flag and a shirt that both stood up for Ukraine and the women of Iran.

Luke believes that the invader made his point clear.

“Pitch invaders who storm with a purpose of meaningful message do not bother me,” he said.  “It is the best way to promote issues on the biggest stage in the world.”

The protests across Iran originated when a woman died in government custody after being arrested for improper use of a Hijab and wearing skinny jeans.  Her murder sparked unrest through the country, as young people took to the streets to protest the strict laws against women.  Protesters have been wrongfully detained, beaten and their families have also been put in danger for their actions.  It has cased fear for many who rightfully are scared to speak up.

The World Cup, only about halfway through, has already caused so many controversies; some even before the teams had a chance to arrive.  FIFA has found themselves under fire numerous times for their corruption, and fans want to see a change.

Max is hopeful that future World Cups could look different.

“[The situation] is horrible and we’ve seen the same thing in previous World Cups.  I think [in the future they] should be held in a country or multiple countries with the infrastructure and stadiums already there to handle the fans.”