Qatar World Cup: Corruption, deaths of migrant workers, and potential death sentence for homosexuality demonstrate why Fifa made wrong choice – Steve Cardownie

The World Cup kicks off this Sunday in Qatar and, given that Scotland failed to qualify, a great number of Scots football fans will be mulling over whether they should remain neutral or lend their support (albeit from afar) to one of the teams who have won through to the finals.

Several players for Scottish teams will take part in the World Cup, including Australia internationals Nathaniel Atkinson (Hearts), Keanu Baccus (St Mirren), Cammy Devlin (Hearts) and Kye Rowles (Hearts) (Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS Group)
Several players for Scottish teams will take part in the World Cup, including Australia internationals Nathaniel Atkinson (Hearts), Keanu Baccus (St Mirren), Cammy Devlin (Hearts) and Kye Rowles (Hearts) (Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS Group)

Australia will figure largely in the minds of fans from the Capital with three players from Hearts (Cammy Devlin, Kye Rowles and Nat Atkinson) and one from Hibs (Martin Boyle) all included in the Aussie squad. With kick-offs at reasonable times back here, there will no doubt be no shortage of TV spectators, either at home or in the pub.

Qatar has built seven new stadiums and redeveloped another since it was awarded the tournament by Fifa back in 2010 and has been developing an infrastructure that will be sufficient to accommodate an expected one-and-a-half million visitors. It is estimated that the total cost of the stadia is nearly £5.5 billion and the investment in infrastructure projects such as roads, hotels, public spaces and transport brings the figure up to an estimated total of more than £168 billion.

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However the staging of the tournament in Qatar has been steeped in controversy since the host country was first announced, with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch pointing to “thousands of unexplained deaths and injuries, wage theft and exorbitant recruitment fees” amongst the migrant workers recruited to work on the building projects.

Male homosexuality is illegal in Qatar with a possible punishment of up to three years in prison, a fine and even a death sentence for Muslims under sharia law. Although there are no known cases in which the death penalty has been carried out for homosexuality, the threat of such ‘punishment’ still exists.

It was a nonsense that Qatar was awarded the tournament (amid accusations of bribes and sweeteners to secure the event) in the first place but we are left to deal with that decision. Footballers are now expected to represent their respective nations in a country that flouts human rights and for that the blame lies squarely with Fifa.