With the start of the FIFA football tournament this November - what the world except the USA calls “The World Cup” - western hypocrisy towards Qatar has reached unprecedented levels. It looks almost like Western mainstream media outlets collectively agreed to attack the Gulf state.
By Arthur Blok and Marco Mattiussi, cartoon by Joon W.
Not a day passes without page-full interviews with angry gays, frustrated LGTBQ-ers, and other left-out wokists about what is wrong in Qatar. Why is the West deliberately applying a double standard to Qatar instead of looking in the mirror?
Let’s look at that.
It almost became the latest Western trend to find something wrong in the mini Gulf state. In the weeks and months leading to the World Championship football tournament, it became daily bread, even after the start of the championship before and between matches. Is that fair?
The first issue to gain the front pages was the numerous reports about the mistreatment of Qatar's treatment of migrant workers.
However, like it or not, Qatar has made significant strides in labor reforms in the past five years. Inconvenient, perhaps for the Western mainstream media, but there is a substantial improvement in a region traditionally hostile to civil society interventions and unions.
The so-called “kafala system” - that used to make it illegal for migrant workers to change jobs or leave the country without their employer’s permission - is terminated.
Other reforms, like a minimum wage for migrant workers in the region and harsher penalties for companies that did not comply with the new labor law, have been successfully introduced. These are changes that would have been considered impossible ten years ago.
But let’s now look at what is happening in Western Europe and the US.
In the Netherlands, a “true champion” of human rights everywhere in the world, a survey has found that seasonal and short-term contract workers who come to the Netherlands have a severe risk of serious physical and mental health problems because of their working conditions (long hours, high productivity pressure, hard physical work, uncertainty, and unsafe accommodation).
In the UK, there have been issued various similar reports as well stating physical and mental health risks for migrant workers. Unsafe working conditions, unsafe housing, and not being paid the complete or correct wages. Some have defined it as modern slavery.
Should we then mention the significant phenomenon of exploiting the (often illegal) migrant workers in agriculture in South Italy? And we could continue, as similar reports, and worse, can be found in almost all Western Europe Countries like Germany, France, Spain, and the United States.
From this point of view, the Western criticisms of Qatar start to sound nothing more than a sterile exercise of hypocrisy at its best.
Then, the wave of Western criticism suddenly moved from the workers to the LGBT+++ rights (note: every week, a new letter is added to this acronym, we apologize in advance if we are missing some of them here ).
Virtual battles have started to be fought to allow the players to wear the rainbow or the “OneLove” wristband on the pitch. Although we all obviously, agree on the principles of equality, respect, and being against discrimination, it sounds preposterous to use a sporting event to promote those specific values. Especially when it looks like the criticism is mainly addressed to the host Country.
When FIFA ruled out this option, some players or teams devised alternative forms of “protest.”
One of the most ridiculous acts in this direction so far has been the German team, where all players have covered their mouths in the pre-Japan match picture to “protest the ban to the rainbow wristband.”
The photo has made the rounds on social media and generated several memes mocking the Germans (also in light of their consequent humiliating defeat by 2-1 in the next match at the hands of the Japanese team).
The nicer comments were like: are you here to play football or to play the clowns? The question is correct if you ask us.
Even more puzzling was the behavior of the England team, still kneeling on the pitch before the matches against Iran and the USA. What exactly were they kneeling for?
Mates, are you still on good old BLM vibes? In any case, a very racist statement per se, in our opinion, as we firmly believe that ALL Lives Matter.
Kind reminder to the players: dudes, you are there for a straightforward and specific task: play football at your best and possibly win the match for your Country. Leave personal opinions, beliefs, and feelings at home.
When FIFA awarded Qatar the right to organize this event, along with the Summer Olympic Games, the most followed sports event in the world (and sorry for our American fellows that believe their Super Bowl can compete with those), the terms were clear.
Qatar World Cup Ambassador Khalid Salman stated since the beginning that “everyone will be welcome in Qatar for the World Cup, but they must abide by the rules of the Country.”
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Trying to twist those rules all of a sudden with narrative, propaganda, and silly acts seems, at this point, more like an exercise of hypocrisy from the Western world.