Qatar unfit to hold World Cup, United States unfit to tell them

The United States criticizes Qatar, the host nation of the World Cup, for its human rights violations, despite its own domestic shortcomings. Qatar denies the allegations.

Graphic by Talia Moskowitz '24

The United States criticizes Qatar, the host nation of the World Cup, for its human rights violations, despite its own domestic shortcomings. Qatar denies the allegations.

In Qatar, an Islamic State the size of Connecticut, one of the largest sporting events in the world is currently taking place. 

The United States, spreading its glorious wings of Western democracy, has come out repeatedly criticizing the host nation for its rampant homophobia and migrant worker exploitation. The content of the criticisms are valid, of course, but hold no ethos coming from the U.S. to their own civil rights issues.

The U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken recently criticized FIFA for threatening players at the World Cup if they wear rainbow armbands that say “One Love” to support inclusion and diversity.  Blinken said that the restriction, along with any violation of “freedom of expression” was “concerning.” This ban came about as a result of the many anti-LGBTQ laws in place in Qatar and the ban on same-sex sexual activity under Qatar’s Penal Code 2004. 

Many other nations echoed Blinken’s sentiments. Qatar’s rampant homophobia is horribly discriminatory and has ruined the event for many soccer fans who find it difficult to support a tournament hosted in a country wherein their sexual orientation could be a federal offense. However, the United States has incredible social justice reform to achieve before it can begin preaching on the grounds of moral superiority. 

Just days before Blinken spoke out against the ban, a mass shooting at a gay bar in Colorado killed five people and injured 18. A UN report also recently found that LGBTQ rights were being “deliberately undermined” in some states. 

As one of the world’s leading nations that prides itself on being a pillar of democracy and a role model for freedom of expression, it seems incredibly hypocritical that the United States made up more than 70% of global mass shootings over two decades and recently overturned a woman’s right to an abortion in the SCOTUS case Dobbs v. Jackson, yet still finds it appropriate to fire shots at Qatar for its civil rights offenses.

…the United States has incredible social justice reform to achieve before it can begin preaching on the grounds of moral superiority.”

— Talia Moskowitz '24

What Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the Dobbs dissent was even more alarming, delcaring that the court has the “duty to ‘correct the error’” of past precedents protecting Americans’ right to birth control and the right to same-sex relations. 

As the United States has proven, human rights are not a priority, neither domestically nor internationally. I think that its criticisms towards Qatar, rather, comes from a desire to ensure Western dominance on the international stage.

Yes, there are a myriad of reasons why Qatar should not be hosting this World Cup. Homophobia and gender inequality aside, Qatar has a virtually nonexistent soccer culture, and the nation has never previously qualified for a World Cup. The Qatari fans who filled stadiums, their chanting and cheering reminiscent of stadiums in South America and Europe, weren’t even citizens of Qatar. They were Lebanese, paid by Qatar to support the nation’s athletes. 

There is no question that Qatar is not fit to hold the World Cup, but the United States’ hypocrisy in denouncing Qatar for human rights violations, when they too are guilty of their own, must not go unnoticed.