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It's Not Just Qatar. Rights-Violating Countries that Want to Host the Next World Cups

The current World Cup in Qatar has been the target of criticism for the systematic violation of human rights against foreign workers and people from the LGBT+ community

Morocco and Saudi Arabia

Photos: Pixabay

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: No solo es Catar. Países violadores de derechos que quieren albergar los próximos mundiales

The greatest soccer festival on the planet, the FIFA World Cup, today is marred by the scandals surrounding the venue. Complaints of violation of human rights, especially against women, the LGBT+ community and foreign workers, have been made public since the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) gave the small emirate the opportunity to be the organizer of the 2022 World Cup.

Despite the scandals that also accompany possible bribery and corruption, this is not the only world accompanied by serious complaints. Four years ago, in Russia, there were also complaints of human rights violations, opposition political persecution, and discriminatory laws against the LGBT+ community. Likewise, in the past there are also World Cups organized in countries under dictatorship, such as the World Cup in Argentina in 1978 or the World Cup in Mussolini's fascist Italy in 1934.

Jerome Valcke, a senior FIFA official, said it well after experiencing delays in the organization of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil: “What I am going to say is going to sound crazy, but less democracy is sometimes better for organizing a cup of the world". It seems that this comment was the criteria by which the next events were organized in countries with low rates of democracy: Russia and Qatar. One, an oligarchy that covers up elections without political rights and the other, an absolutist religious monarchy.

But, beyond Qatar, there are other countries with serious democratic and human rights questions that also aspire to organize a world cup in the future. In addition to the 2026 World Cup, whose hosts will be the United States, Canada and Mexico. Each of these countries has its controversies, either to a greater or lesser extent. On the one hand, the United States maintains its prison in Guantánamo, where there are complaints of human rights violations; or racist violence that has claimed the lives of thousands (if not millions) of African Americans at the hands of the police; or the shootings and massacres associated with the ease of obtaining weapons.

In addition, Canada is still haunted today by the ghosts of the past in its dealings with indigenous communities (First Nations, as they are known) that ended in the constant violation of human rights and possible genocide. Likewise, today, Canadian companies are accused of violating laws that end up affecting the environment and communities. Or Mexico's difficult security problems related to drug trafficking. But also systemic femicides or inequality and extreme poverty.

World Cup 2030

For the 2030 World Cup, a venue has not yet been chosen, but there are already several candidates. However, within these, there are several with deep complaints. On the one hand, there is the candidacy of Morocco. Human Right Watch has compiled the ways in which the kingdom of Morocco has been suppressing and persecuting opponents. The 129-page report, titled “They'll Get You No Matter What: Morocco's Playbook to Crush Dissent,” documents tactics, to create a system of repression that silences critics. Among the complaints are unfair trials, and attacks in the media.

You may also be interested: Political chess in Qatar 2022: Understand all the political conflict that is played in the World Cup

These allegations occur especially in the western part of what many know as Morocco. That area in the northwestern tip of Africa, which is also known as Western Sahara, is a territory not recognized by most countries as an independent nation, but part of Morocco. However, the Sahrawis demand the independence of the country and it is here where the majority of denunciations of human rights violations occur.

Arabia, Egypt, and Greece

On the other hand, another controversial candidacy is the one that seeks to unite 3 continents: Arabia, Egypt and Greece (Asia, Africa, and Europe). Within this triplet, there are 2 of the countries with the highest complaints of human rights violations.

Arabia takes the top spot. It could almost be said that it complies with the same complaints that Qatar has today: profoundly discriminatory laws against LGBT+ people, against women and against the migrant population. However, many experts consider Saudi Arabia to be much more radical than Qatar. Likewise, it is a monarchy that constrains and persecutes opponents. Even the case of the Saudi-British journalist Jamal Kashoggi in 2018, who entered the Saudi Arabian embassy in Istanbul to renew his passport, and never left. It is believed that he was killed and dismembered inside the compound. The act appears to have been ordered with the consent of the highest command of the Saudi government.

For its part, Egypt also has several complaints that would make the choice of these 3 countries as the venue controversial. Today, the Egyptian president, Abdelfatah el Sisi, is denounced for wanting to implement an autocratic regime and political persecution of opponents. Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said: “The Egyptian authorities have created the National Human Rights Strategy as a brilliant cover for their incessant human rights violations, thinking that this would deceive the world ahead of COP27. But the stark reality of his notorious human rights record cannot be washed over with a public relations stunt.”

Thus, the accounts, possibly all the candidacies for the soccer world cup from 2030 to the future, have points against. However, there are some clear cases that have an even more complicated situation.