While the world’s eyes may be on Russia and the Winter Olympics another public diplomacy nightmare about sports looms on the horizon. In 2010 the Middle Eastern country of Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup by FIFA, the International Federation of Association Football, making it the smallest country by landmass to have ever been selected as well as the second smallest nation by population to have been selected. The year after the selection was announced allegations of corruption within FIFA were announced, as allegations of bribes made by Qatar to members of FIFA were made in 2011. Concerns about player safety also followed due to extreme heat during the summer being an issue.
A new round of controversy has emerged as media outlets from around the world have recently released information on the plight of workers in Qatar. In order to prepare for the World Cup Qatar has had to important thousands of foreign workers from south Asia in order to construct the requisite 10 stadiums of 40,000+ capacity that is required to host a World Cup. Qatar and other Gulf states have had a long history with workers from south Asia, a history that has often featured instances of exploitation and death. Media sources have recently revealed that over 450 workers have died over the past two years. Concerns over human rights issues as well as scheduling difficulty have prompted some senior officials within FIFA to say that Qatar may very well lose its World Cup. Needless to say Qatar is facing a political nightmare, as the attention drawn from hosting the World Cup has potentially exposed a plethora of issues that need to be addressed in order to repair the country’s image.