The 2022 FIFA World Cup has only just started on November 20th, but the event, which takes place in Qatar this year, has been in the headlines for months. And that’s because there has been so much controversy involved in this year’s cup, from the selection of Qatar to host the event, to allegations of human rights abuses, to reports of modern slavery and criminal activity by the host country. It’s been difficult to track down or understand everything that’s happening between games – but thankfully, John Oliver is here to explain so you don’t have to.
For the season finale of Last week tonight, Oliver dived deep into all the controversy surrounding the 2022 FIFA World Cup. And in his signature style, he’s been brutally honest about the obvious and subtle reasons why he believes this was doomed and dangerous from the start.
“Qatar was not only a surprising choice, it was logically inexplicable,” argued Oliver. “It would be like the Westminster Dog Show awarding the title of Best in Show to a turtle. Nothing against that turtle, but not only should it not have won, it should have been automatically disqualified.”
But “beneath the hilarious pageantry and David Beckham doing a bad Anthony Bourdain cosplay is a much darker story,” Oliver said, speaking of the country’s multimillion-dollar arrangement with Beckham to promote the event. And the darker story points to gross human rights abuses and the conditions migrant workers faced as they built the infrastructure to host the tournament.
Corresponding The guard, Qatar had to build everything from roads, metro systems, hundreds of hotels, an airport and several stadiums to host the World Cup. Not only did this venture cost $300 billion, it also required people to build it.
“All the new stadiums and infrastructure were built through modern day slavery,” Oliver said, explaining the reporting that the workers were mostly from India, Nepal and Bangladesh and subjected to a system of forced labor. Not only were these workers forced to work long hours in this scorching desert heat, but many reportedly died, Oliver said, citing a year of 2021 Guardian Detection.
“When FIFA awarded Qatar the World Cup there was only one way to build these stadiums and there was only one group that would do that and they gave them the tournament anyway,” said Oliver.
“The government of Qatar is committing some really horrible behavior and we cannot just whitewash it and uncritically spotlight it,” Oliver continued, sharing statistics and first-hand accounts of the abuse, harassment and threats of violence faced by LGBTQ people country opposite.
Oliver admits he is conflicted as he is an avid observer of the World Cup event and he will be cheering for England this year. However, he did not urge his viewers to boycott the football tournament; Instead, he urged people to “try to make sure there’s a line drawn here.”
“There is no reason to believe that FIFA will ever do the right thing,” he concluded. “But I’d love it if, just for once in its crappy history, it could find a way to adhere to the lofty ideals it has the gall to profess.”