The reason behind protests against Qatar hosting World Cup 2022

The reason behind protests against Qatar hosting World Cup 2022

Is Qatar really fit to host a World Cup? It's a question that is only now coming to the lips of some of Europe's most prominent footballers and nations.

The March international break has seen multiple teams protest against the prospect of playing the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with qualifying now underway in Europe.

Qatar were awarded with the rights to host the 2022 World Cup by FIFA in 2010, beating competition from bids from the USA, South Korea, Japan and Australia in the voting.

At the time, there was uproar at the thought of football's most prestigious international tournament being held in a country that had virtually no previous history in the sport.

Qatar's lack of football heritage has seen it have to build eight new stadiums in time for 2022, while the finals itself was moved to the winter to combat the extreme summer heat.

Why are protests only emerging now?

Although Qatar had never had the highest reputation for its values of human rights and treatment of migrant workers, a Guardian report published on February 23 has laid these two issues bare.

The report stated that, since Qatar was awarded the World Cup in 2010, more than 6,500 migrant workers have died in the country, with the hot climate and working and living conditions being pointed at as possible explanations.

The Guardian's report hit hardest in Norway, where Eliteserien clubs like Tromso have called on the country's federation to boycott the World Cup in 2022.

Norway's national team were the first to protest in March, displaying shirts reading "Human rights on and off the pitch" ahead of their qualifier against Gibraltar last Wednesday.

Germany followed suit on Thursday ahead of their qualifier with Iceland, with every member of their starting line-up displaying a letter to read "Human rights" on their shirts.

Bayern Munich duo Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretska, who have raised millions of euros for charity during the coronavirus pandemic in Germany, were the most outspoken.

"I think we're 10 years too late to boycott the World Cup," Kimmich told L'Equipe.

"It wasn't allocated this year, but a few years ago. We should have thought about boycotting back then. Now we need to take the opportunity and use our publicity to raise awareness about things. But it's not just down to us footballers ... we should work together."

"We have the World Cup coming up and there will be discussions about it," Goretzka added. "We wanted to show we are not ignoring that. We have a large reach and we can use it to set an example for the values we want to stand for."

The German Football Federation is not in favour of boycotting the 2022 World Cup, while their Norwegian counterparts are undecided on their final actions.

Norway called on more national teams to join them and Germany in their protests ahead of their qualifier against Turkey on Saturday. "Who's next?" it read on their shirts.

The Norwegian players also held up five fingers during the national anthem in reference to Article 5 of the Human Rights Act, which states "Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person."

It was the Netherlands, it turned out, who would be next. They displayed shirts with the slogan "Football supports change" ahead of their qualifier with Latvia on Saturday.

The Danish national team wore the same slogan on their shirts ahead of their qualifier against Moldova on Sunday.

While it may be too late to plan a unified boycott of the 2022 World Cup, the footballing world is finally sitting up and taking notice of what is going on in Qatar.

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