Since Qatar was declared to host the world cup, the gulf country has been put under the microscope by the West. There have been various criticisms and statements from West, as well as some misleading headlines in the western media. Although it is a soccer tournament, Western have been talking about anything but. The attitude has not changed even after the opening ceremony. This discussion is not to proof or defend as there are no human rights issues in Qatar, nor to say there are. We are going to talk about from which ground west are talking and alleging is nothing but hypocrisy and expose their biased attitude.
Germany is much more ahead than any other Europeans to evaluate Qatar’s stance on human rights. The Europeans misbehaving and torturing through centuries of other nations, now have decided they should have put standard in how things should be, and ridiculously they sat on the iron throne they have been treating others, though selectively as their wish. This selectivity of Western standard sensitivity towards the issues they make inquiries about led some to call them “hypocrites.” FIFA President Gianni Infantino flogged out, saying, “I am European. For what we have been doing for 3,000 years around the world, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years before giving moral lessons.”
One may try to make a reasonable perspective to Germany’s bizarre attitude about Qatar hosting the World Cup and say that Germany and Qatar have other various issues which are not resolved and this unsolved issues might be affecting German’s judgment. But in recent trips to Qatar, Germans could not make Qataris cave in to their demands, for example, in terms of LNG trading while Europe is engaged in the Russia-Ukraine war. Here we don’t sea from Germans such kind of judgment as “you have human rights issues so I will not go forward to trade with you.” Rather here Germans represents the intention of Europeans such as “accept my terms in others”.
If Israel hosted world cup instead of Qatar, anyone could fairly claim that Germany would not put any allegation to Israel, but would remain silent as it was not their concern what is happening there. When it is about Israel to be claimed in Palestine issue where they are continuously breaking human rights, Germans are silent here. So it is clear that it is no other things but hypocrisy that the westerners make a selective position to show their so called humanity. To let Israelis to travel and enjoy the world, Israel had to allow the Palestinians to fly out of Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel-Aviv along with Israelis.
Accredited media and ticket holders will be allowed “to travel on these chartered flights with no restrictions as they have an equal right to enjoy the tournament,” a FIFA spokesperson said in a statement. But what about the thousands of Palestinians who have not the equal right of movement in everyday life?. Here westerners are “ crying” for Israeli’s right to direct flight to enjoy the world cup, even then the Palestinians are living in an open air prison in Gaza. Why here we cannot hear any outrage from Germans or any other western country? Until now or will we ever hear after the world cup? We can all assume that they will play the three monkeys “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” about this issue while asking all of us to discuss what human rights they selected to care for and from which angle.
Western Media Hypocrisy
On the media side, the British media is the vanguard with its misleading coverage of Qatar. Some British media manipulated the minds with misleading headlines and other European countries followed that. For example, The Guardian published in February 2021 a news that was captioned: “Revealed: 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar as it gears up for World Cup’’ which later was revised to: “6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since World Cup awarded.” Even though the Guardian amended its manipulative headline, but the damage was done. They made a very negative mindset to people that the Qatar is extremely manipulating human rights, labor rights and all the labors died are linked to construction of Stadiums and other constructions if they are soccer fans or not.
BBC also snubbed the opening ceremony for the World Cup 2022 to discuss the accusations laid against Qatar and how it was “the most controversial World Cup in history.” While the football fans in other parts of the world were watching the opening ceremony and enjoying the greatest show on earth that included memorable cultural elements, representation of one of the world’s most popular culture; on BBC One, British taxpayers were subjected to listening to the presenters’ bias towards Qatar instead. One of the broadcasters, Gary Lineker, was recorded saying: “Ever since FIFA chose Qatar back in 2010, the smallest nation to have hosted football’s greatest competition has faced some big questions. From allegations of corruption in the bidding process to the treatment of migrant workers who built the stadiums where many lost their lives.”
No other country has been criticized as Qatar has been for hosting a sports event and this has resonated across the Arab world since they saw the stereotypes about Arabs as racism targeting them all, not just Qataris. Qataris have been using Western and Arabic media outlets to counter the criticism and highlight what they have been doing to improve workers’ rights. Not only ordinary Arab people, but also Qataris viewed the biased statements from the Western world as racist.
On Nov. 6, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said the Western approach is racist when he spoke to Sky News: “We can say that they are highly racist given that a country like Qatar, an Arab Islamic country, a small country, was able to compete with large countries that consider that they are more deserving of hosting this tournament.”
In an interview with Al-Jazeera Arabic two weeks prior to the tournament, the CEO of the World Cup 2022, Nasser al-Khater said: “European countries feel they have a monopoly over the World Cup. Europe has hosted 11 tournaments out of 22 tournaments, of course, it refuses that a country like Qatar or an Arab Muslim country hosts a tournament like the World Cup.”
Is it nothing but “Islamophobia”?
It is now clear that Europeans think that they are the right choice for hosting world cup, however, it’s true that many Westerners think Qatar should not have been awarded to be the host. What could be called another Eurocentric westernized presumption that football world cup should not be held on winter where it is always held on summer. It’s not a valid excuse because this approach limited the football world cup considered as the greatest show on earth based on geographical and seasonal suitability, and if that is the case, there is no need to call it
In some cases, the Western attitude has exceeded criticism and come across as downright Islamophobia under the disguise of “freedom of speech.” In October 2022 the French weekly Le Canard Enchaine published a cartoon issue entitled “Qatar, Behind The Scenes”. The cartoon depicts the players of the Qatari national team carrying machetes, guns and rocket launchers, with one of them wearing a suicide vest chasing a soccer ball in the sand. In this case, if anyone rejects that this isn’t about freedom of speech but racism and Islamophobia there will be outcries from the French. It is racism and Islamophobia, however, the French cartoonists seem to enjoy the publicity when their application of “freedom of speech” resonates differently in the Islamic world, which they often target and cause controversy. How bizarre this is! What a hypocrisy again!
If we were to evaluate Qatar’s human rights records, we would have to look through the West’s Eurocentric and Orientalist lenses and this is why we should abstain from it, at the moment.
Edward Said told in his famous book,” Orientalism “, Orientalist lense tells us west is superior than east in comes of education, culture, literature, knowledge, civilization, power and all the things are good and worthy. So they have the right to disguise others, underestimate others’ culture, tradition, and heritage. In this case as the FIFA World Cup is considered as the greatest show on earth, so the west has more right for hosting the world cup than east.
But if we look over the history, we can easily understand where is the hypocrisy, how “civilized” the west is! How “greatly” they dealt with their colony or with the world!
The author of this article is studying at the Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka