Last week, the United States won the 2019 Women’s World Cup championship. The tournament, Franklin Foer wrote, was “an exhibition of excellence, a noble step in the struggle for gender equity.” In contrast, he argued, the 2022 Men’s World Cup, set to take place in Qatar, “will be an authoritarian regime’s vulgar vanity project, allegedly made possible by massive corruption.” The money that would be spent on that World Cup, Foer said, would be better invested in the women’s game.
Franklin Foer’s “Cancel Qatar” is a pile of dated arguments and failed logic. The crux of his argument is that opportunity and advancement in sports is zero-sum. While there can only be one winner, it is the belief of the State of Qatar that sports have the power to not only bring people together, but also inspire and advance generations and genders across continents.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will take place in one of the fastest-growing regions for soccer fandom, and population, in the world. It is incredibly meaningful to the Arab world to host an event like the World Cup, and to give the tens of millions of people who live near Qatar a connection to a global event.
Foer kicks around a disproven argument that Qatar got the World Cup on something other than merit. Time and again, investigations and reports have cleared Qatar’s bid. We won the vote by the substantial margin of 14 to 8. It’s time to put those falsehoods away for good.
Foer also selectively cites a 2013 report from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) about the state of construction workers in Qatar. In doing so, he blatantly overlooks the ITUC’s recent full endorsement of Qatar’s progress on labor: In October 2017, Sharan Burrow, the ITUC general secretary, stated that “there is a clear government commitment to normalize industrial protections for migrant workers.”
Qatar is deeply committed to the health, safety, and prosperity of expatriate workers, and this commitment does not have an expiration date. We will continue to build on our world-leading system, which protects workers from recruitment through arrival, during their time in Qatar, and until their safe return home to the families they support.
Foer seems to believe it is not possible for the world to advance the role of women in sports and put on an incredible 2022 FIFA World Cup. This is nonsense. Qatar is incredibly proud to be the host of the next World Cup, just as we are thrilled to host the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championship, bringing the best women and men in track and field to Qatar for two weeks of intense competition. We look forward to being inspired by world-class athletes, just as we look forward to seeing who wins the FIFA World Cup trophy in 2022.
Jassim Bin Mansour Al Thani Media Attaché for the State of Qatar in the United States Washington, D.C.
Couldn’t agree with Foer more. I watch a lot of soccer, and consider it the world sport. I’ve been deeply moved by the quality and depth of commitment in this Women’s World Cup.
And I would sign a binding agreement to not watch the next men’s World Cup unless it is moved from Qatar and the women are provided equal support from FIFA and their own countries’ soccer organizations.
Sandy Stott Brunswick, Maine