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Sportswashing | Will Qatar 2022 be the Worst World Cup?

Thom Malone
Thom Malone

22:24 30 Mar 2021

Journalist Miguel Delaney joined Off The Ball on Tuesday where he lamented the sheer volume of 'sportswashing' as the Qatar World Cup looms on the horizon.

Qatar hosting the event led Delaney to wonder what was the worst ever World Cup from a human rights point of view?

"In 1934 with Mussolini in Italy, 1978 the military junta in Argentina, and even in 2108 the last World Cup in Russia," said the Independent football writer.

"What feels so different with this World Cup and maybe it's comparable to 1934 in that way is just how much the tournament is being used as a state vehicle [for propaganda].

"It's so central, even in a way it wasn't in Russia. By the time it came around there was talk whether Putin even wanted it.

"With this, it is not just that it is a politicised World Cup, it's that literally every single element of it is so politicised.

"You've got the reason for it, with the ownership of Manchester City and Paris St Germain over the past few years, 'sportswashing' has been a big phrase.

"This is a clear n example of 'sportswashing' as you can have. It is basically a country usung sport or an event to soften their image and shift the discussion around them on the international stage and make them more acceptable when it comes to questions around their human rights record.

"Then you have the winning of it, given there are still questions over how exactly it came about that Qatar and Russia won the vote in 2010.

"For the first time in 2020 the US Department of Justice actually wrote the accusations of bribery, that Qatar had a strident statement against."

FIFA power for good

Delaney believes FIFA actually has an opportunity to exert some pressure on Qatar to bring about changes with the leverage they have.

"Then there is the very nature of the event. This is why the power of players and FIFA is soo relevant," Delaney said.

"One of the things Amnesty International has  criticised Qatar for, it said 'yes there have been changes but those changes have not yet been implemented.'

"This is where football has a serious lever to pull. If you talk to people in human rights, it is a theory of leverage in human rights activism. Using whatever influence you have to try and get a state response to human rights abuses or issues to change.

"That is exactly the. opportunity FIFA and football have here. They don't need to go into an outright boycott but by applying pressure using the significant power of a World Cup, they can get Qatar to do more," Delaney said.

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2022 World Cup Football Show Miguel Delaney Qatar Qatar 2022 Sportswashing World Cup

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