Sportswashing is a term used to represent the practice political world leaders or companies use to distract people at events, such as the World Cup, from the social and humane injustices in their country or corporation.
Coined in 2018 after Russia hosted the 2018 FIFA World, sportswashing has come up again in conversations as we anticipate the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Professional football players and faculty find themselves eager to stand up for humane injustices in Qatar. On the other hand, some feel they’re under pressure to carry the weight of anticipated justice for the human rights violations in the upcoming football competition.
Either way, controversy is everywhere.
Qatar is a wealthy country which has been known for its human rights injustices, such as LGBTQ+ and women’s rights issues. Abdullah Al Nasari, future Head of Security at the 2022 World Cup, warns people of advocating at the games.
Some people believe the decision to host the World Cup in Qatar is for monetary gain for both Qatar and FIFA. This comes as no shock considering the fraudulent claims about the World Cup in South Africa. Former CONCACAF president Jack Warner and former general secretary Chuck Blazer were accused and found guilty of fraudulent behaviour as acting faculty.
“The report found that Warner, 70, did not disclose to CONCACAF, which represents soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean, or world body FIFA that a $25.9 million (17.0 million pounds) Centre of Excellence was built on land owned by his companies,” according to Reuters.
The 2022 Qatar World Cup will be the most expensive in World Cup history, totalling $220-billion (USD).
Qatar was actually announced as the 2022 World Cup host 12 years ago. Sepp Blatter, former FIFA President, said only a few days ago that he now realizes his mistake in allowing Qatar to host the games.
Liverpool captain and England World Cup player Jordan Henderson said he sees his political potential in the World Cup.
“As a team we’re just sort of digesting that, coming up with ideas of what we want to do going forward because it’s an opportunity to maybe shine a light on the issues and use our platforms to make change for the better,” Henderson said in The Guardian.
The event which sparked players protesting for injustice in Qatar was pride armbands. Tottenham Hotspur’s captain and World Cup team England’s captain Harry Kane kicked off the political stand, showcasing the band around his arm in September. The rainbow bands are a protest and were worn on the arms of other captains who wish to participate.
However, not everyone approved of this.
Premier League Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp spoke out saying he felt it is not on the players to play as political pawns in this controversial situation.
Whether players wish to participate in protesting or not, the controversy surrounding the Qatar World Cup runs deep.