Fink: Strip Qatar of Cup

ESPNSTAR columnist Jesse Fink is not pleased with what he's been hearing about the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Football News: Qatar 2022

The football fans of the world didn't ask for this. We didn't sign up for it. Enough is enough.

Qatar 2022 must be stripped of the World Cup.

FIFA promised we would have a brilliant World Cup in the Middle East. Instead all we've had since the announcement in Zurich in December 2010 is backpedalling.

Those fancy space-age stadiums we saw in the presentation might not be so air-conditioned after all.

First there was talk of shifting the tournament from summer to winter. Then installing wind towers. Then breaking up matches into three 30-minute "thirds". There's still no incontrovertible proof that the carbon-neutral cooling technologies trumpeted by organisers are actually going to work in big stadiums, like the 87,000-capacity Lusail Iconic Stadium, which will host the final.

Freedom of expression and assembly cannot be guaranteed. Homosexuality is banned. Women are repressed. Immigrant workers are treated like virtual slaves. God help anyone who dares raises the hackles of the local security forces. Just look at the way Qatari authorities detained 12 Egyptian citizens after a match between Egypt and in Ghafara on 3 March for daring to hold up banners protesting the killing of 74 football fans by the country's military council in Port Said in February.

Said The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information: "These Egyptian citizens were subjected to cruel and degrading treatment for over 10 hours, the duration of their detention. They were released following interrogation. This incident resembles the case of Syrian citizens in the Emirates who demonstrated against the massacres of the Syrian dictator Al-Assad. The two incidents illustrate the aversion of Arab governments to freedom of expression and restrictions on those who exercise this right, whether citizens or expatriates."

And now Hassan al-Thawadi, chief mouthpiece for Qatar 2022's North Korean-sounding Supreme Committee, says we won't be needing alcohol inside these football pitches-cum-ovens patrolled by merciless security goons.

"I don't see the reason for it being in the stadium," said Al-Thawadi. "I'm looking at it in terms of England and looking at in terms of everybody else. That is something we are discussing with FIFA... let's discuss this with relevant stakeholders and come up with a plan that welcomes everyone."

What fun! Can't wait for the ticket lottery!

What Qatar needs to realise is the World Cup is just that. A World Cup. The world likes to drink. It likes to watch football and drink. At the very least it likes to have the option of watching football and drinking.

If Qatar is going to engage in bulldust like telling fans that "a FIFA World Cup in the region would bring greater unity and understanding between peoples from every continent, perfectly reflecting the FIFA slogan 'For the Game; for the World'" like it does on FIFA's own website, then it should back it up with action.

And right now we're not getting that. Just more reasons not to go.



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