IT HAS again become fashionable for some people to speak against Qatar’s right to host World Cup 2022.
Denmark’s Culture Minister Joy Mogensen is the latest high-profile figure to bask in the glory of Western media attention after criticising Qatar.
In a statement after a virtual meeting of Nordic culture ministers that she hosted recently, Mogensen said it was ‘wrong’ to award World Cup hosting rights to Qatar. She said it “undermines the values and integrity of the beautiful sport that binds the world together”.
Mogensen said five Nordic nations – Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland – ‘shared a similar view of the problem’.
Mogensen’s statement doesn’t come as a surprise. With only months left for World Cup 2022, calls for boycotting Qatar are again getting belligerent and anti-Qatar forces are getting paranoid.
Some European teams made a huge drama of their support for human rights in Qatar by wearing special T-shirts and demonstrating during the qualifying rounds of the Euro Cup.
It’s unfortunate and sickening that Qatar has to rebut their charges again and again. We have implemented several path-breaking labour and sponsorship reforms in the past few years, which are still continuing, and which have been hugely appreciated by FIFA and other world bodies.
Despite all this, it’s unfortunate that a minister from Denmark has chosen to speak against Qatar and wants to deny us and our region the benefits of hosting a great sporting event. Football has a rare appeal and power which no other sport has and it has a unifying power that transcends all other differences.
Millions of fans all over the world are watching the Euro Cup not because they love Europe but because they love football. People in the Arab world, Africa and Asia have the same rights to the game like Europe and the Americas.
Look at the ongoing Euro Cup matches. Denmark beat the Czech Republic 2-1 on Saturday to reach the semi-finals. It’s interesting and inspiring to watch entire Europe coming together for this Cup, with countries from all parts of the continent – from western Europe, eastern Europe and Scandinavian countries – competing and winning.
The Middle East and Arab region, too, deserves to enjoy the fruits of this game by hosting the event. A Danish minister should know this better and shouldn’t have fallen into the trap set by Qatar’s enemies.
And, it’s laughable when we are lectured on human rights by countries whose hands are bloodied by colonialism. Before scrutinising Qatar’s human rights record, Mogensen needs to do some self-introspection about her own country’s record of treatment of migrants.
Denmark became the first European country last month to revoke residence status for more than 200 Syrian refugees, facing condemnation from EU lawmakers, the UN refugee agency and human rights groups.
Some truths aren’t spoken. But the harsh truth is that the opposition to Qatar hosting World Cup has nothing to do with human rights and has everything to do with delusions of superiority and grandstanding. Those who criticise us are occupying a moral high ground which they have erected for themselves.
In the latest tirade against Qatar, our critics are gleefully quoting a Guardian report about migrant deaths in Qatar. The report, which was shared globally, says 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since the World Cup was awarded.
Ask any resident of Qatar who has been here for a few years, whether Asian, Arab, American or European. Ask them if they think the number is correct. And if you think we are lying or hiding the truth, speak to officials of all those embassies in Doha of countries from where these migrants come from, as claimed by The Guardian.
There must be a limit to hypocrisy and double standards. It’s the duty of every individual from everywhere in the world, who respects truth and fair play, to support Qatar in this vicious campaign against us.