It’s the Little Things
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The World Cup was supposed to be Qatar’s crowning achievement, its entry into the club of the world’s most advanced and exclusive destinations for world-class sports events and entertainment. Now the event might go down in history as the only soccer – that is, football – championship where there was no beer.
The event started off Nov. 20 with FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who oversees the World Cup, bizarrely saying he felt “gay, disabled and like a migrant worker … like a woman,” after critics raised questions about Qatar’s civil rights record and strict, Islamic culture, as the Daily Beast recounted.
Team players, for example, were forbidden to wear rainbow armbands to show support for the suppressed LGBTQ community in the “tiny and religiously conservative gas-rich sheikhdom in the Gulf,” CNBC noted. Same-sex relationships are illegal in Qatar.
National Public Radio listed all the activities that World Cup fans have been restricted from doing in Qatar. They include drinking alcohol, professing religious faiths other than Islam, criticizing political leaders, homosexual behavior, and exposing too much of their bodies.
News organizations also covered how mistreated, underpaid migrants, often from Nepal and other South Asian countries, helped build the sports complexes and other infrastructure for hosting the first World Cup in the Middle East. As CNN reported, many of those workers found little but misery in the Persian Gulf emirate.
Similarly, workers at the World Cup festivities were accusing Qatari authorities of fostering unfair labor conditions and failing to pay them sufficiently – or at all – for their work, according to ABC News.
The opening ceremonies alluded to inclusivity in a strange interaction between Morgan Freeman and Ghanim al-Muftah, a Qatari social media personality and advocate for the disabled, the Guardian wrote.
Qatar had spent $220 billion on the project over the course of 12 years, including a stadium where the roof was designed to look like a Bedouin tent, according to the New York Times.
But, when the players finally took to the field, Ecuadoran fans chanted “We want beer!” as their team trounced Qatar on the field in the competition’s opening match, reported CBS News.
Remarkably, Qatari hoteliers and landlords have discovered that they might have constructed too many housing units for the spectators. As Reuters explained, anticipating a tight squeeze on rooms, players and fans have found other accommodation, from cruise ships to desert camps. Some have even taken shuttle flights from other nearby cities, like Dubai.
Qatar hasn’t yet worked out the kinks.