Qatar Cup on thin ice

If you took a second from checking your smartphone, tablet or computer to read anything but March Madness the past couple of days you may have come across an article regarding the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

It might seem sacrilegious to write about anything but basketball at this moment in time, in this state, during this month, but this is important.

FIFA, the most corrupt sporting organization in the world, decided Thursday to play the 2022 World Cup in November and hold the finals in December for the first time since their opening contest in 1930.

Qatar, a small oil-rich state outside of Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf, couldn’t host the cup after winning its bid in the summer because of its climate, which can reach up to 122 degrees.

There has been plenty of foul play up to this point that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Each FIFA World Cup venue is planned far in advance to their tournament, giving the countries time to build their stadiums and get ready for one of the largest sporting event in the world.

Bidding for the 2018 and 2022 cups started in 2009.

In December of 2010, Australia, Japan, Qatar, South Korea and the United States were finalists to host the 2022 cup while Russia had already controversially claimed the 2018 spot.

Just months after winning the cup, Qatar FIFA representative Mohamed Bin Hammam was banned from soccer for life after a huge corruption scandal was released involving the 2011 FIFA presidential elections.

Hammam and several other FIFA officials were charged with bribing other nations to get votes so they could hold the cup in Qatar.

Since then, whistle-blowers have outed Qatar, accusing the country of bribery on multiple levels. Some of those people who outed the election have since been put under protection of the FBI.

Bribery isn’t uncommon in FIFA, unfortunately. It’s something fans have dealt with for years.

The estimated cost for Qatar to host the cup is $100 billion.

All of the stadiums, hotels and venues are mostly under construction, allegedly by slaves.

Yes, modern-day slaves.

Migrant workers, mostly from Nepal and India, have said that a majority of the work is being done through forced labor.

The migrant workers can’t leave the country unless they have a visa signed by an employer. You can’t leave unless your boss says you can.

In March 2014, 900 workers reportedly had already died during labor — it’s estimated that 4,000 will die before the first kickoff of the 2022 cup.

The Guardian, a news agency based in the United Kingdom, broke the story, and found that the conditions amounted to slavery.

As John Oliver half-jokingly stated on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight,” “The Cup is shaping to be the most deadly Middle East construction project since the pyramids.”

It’s appalling what has transpired in the last couple years. Things need dramatic change when basic human rights are being exploited for a game.

So, essentially, one of the richest nations in the world is exploiting the poor for one of the world’s most popular sporting events.

Qatar, which is at least partially governed through Sharia law, has conservative laws governing social mores, many of which will likely be stretched by the usual soccer crowd. One major player, alcohol, is not freely available.

Many countries with less conservative views are appalled at the country’s stance — not to mention some of the top advertisers in the booze business.

Budweiser is one of the Cup’s largest advertisers. During the Brazil World Cup in 2014 FIFA persuaded the Brazilian government to pass a bill that made alcohol legal during soccer matches.

FIFA has so much influence they can change laws.

Moving away from the summer has upset some of FIFA’s richest stakeholders; including members of the European leagues and federations which would have their seasons interrupted.

According to the New York Times, fewer than 800 of the world’s players take part in the World Cup. Typically the athletes get a two-month break in between club and international play. That will no longer be the case.

The athletes will now have to choose whether to play club or leave to represent their country — a choice that has clubs terrified of revenue loss.

Broadcast companies are also freaking out.

FOX, who will televise the world cup in the United States, will be in the prime of American football season.

It’s a nightmare at all angles, and nothing will change.

If you thought the NCAA was wrong in not paying its athletes, FIFA is a whole different monster.

It’s an international beast with so much power it can’t be stopped.

FIFA makes all its money from the World Cup. The country hosting gets little to none of the profits. Brazil lost millions of dollars in 2014 and protests erupted in the country’s poorer locations.

Yet, FIFA claims it’s a nonprofit organization. They say they put all of their billions of dollars in funds in a reserve.

Everything has pointed against the 2022 World Cup taking place in Qatar, but we better get used to the idea now that the dates are tentatively set.

Jordan Morey is the sports editor of The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected].