November 21, 2022
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether it was right for FIFA to award the organisation of the World Cup 2022 to Qatar. We also look at the increase in student enrollment in primary schools in Uttar Pradesh, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
FIFA World Cup 2022 – Was it a mistake to award it to Qatar?
The footballing world, indeed the sporting world, will have its eyes on Qatar for the next month as the World Cup gets underway. Teams, officials, media, and fans converge in this small Middle East country. Qatar has already made history by being the first country in the region to host the prestigious tournament.
But it’s not all been rosy. Just days before the tournament, former FIFA President Sepp Blatter said it was a mistake to award Qatar the World Cup. While bringing the beautiful game in such a grand way to the region is significant, is Blatter right? Have the controversies in the run-up to the tournament validated his statement?
Let’s go back to 2010, months before the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments were awarded. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) had its annual meeting in Libya. The CAF was short of funds, and Qatar decided to foot the bill for the event. In return, they were allowed to present their World Cup bids to the delegates and have a vote on FIFA’s Executive Committee.
One thing to know is that lobbying wins. Lobbying the FIFA delegates gets you their time and attention. It ranges from fancy meals to trips to large-scale investments. All bidding countries do it, but Qatar outplayed the others. The bidding process is an unknown quantity to the common football fan. Football’s global reach, some would argue driven by the popularity of the European leagues and competitions, has expanded exponentially.
In 2002, the World Cup reached Asia for the first time. In 2010, it was Africa’s turn. Bidding processes aren’t exactly transparent. In the 2006 bid, when South Africa lost to Germany, reports later stated German politicians and businessmen swayed the votes of the Asian delegates with investments. Following the controversy, FIFA decided to implement new rules starting in 2007.
The bidding process usually starts seven years before the tournament begins, though that’s not always the case. A country’s bidding package includes expected criteria, stadia required, and the investment necessary to make it happen. The country’s football body works with the government on this. They have a year to finalise their bid. Then FIFA officials begin tours of each bidding country, usually accompanied by political figures, celebrities, and ex-footballers. They’ve got to be impressed.
Next comes the voting. In light of bribery and corruption allegations, FIFA decided all member associations have a vote. Previously it was only for the 24 members of the Executive Committee. The country(s) with a majority is awarded the tournament. Coming back to the current scenario, in a glitzy ceremony in 2010, Blatter opened the envelope and announced Qatar as the host of the 2022 World Cup. It beat out stiff competition from the USA and Australia.
As the tournament begins, Qatar is facing increased scrutiny, not only for its bidding and lobbying process but everything that’s happened after. Should the country have been given this enormous responsibility?
VIEW: Expanding the game’s reach further
The concept of the beautiful game is to be limitless without borders and boundaries. When the World Cup went to Asia and Africa for the first time, it was historic and celebrated as such. The same should apply to Qatar. Expanding the sport to the Middle East is a natural step to allow the region and its people to participate.
The Middle East at large has lots of money. Qatar is no exception. Part of bringing such a big tournament to the country is for the future. Some in the West might think football isn’t a part of Qatar’s culture. But in fact, the government has pumped billions of dollars into the sport through sponsorships of teams like German giants Bayern Munich and Spain’s Barcelona and owning Paris Saint Germain (PSG). Also, Qatar are the Asian champions.
There’s been the understandable talk of politics. Qatar is an absolute monarchy. There are some restrictions in terms of culture and practices, though the government has relaxed some rules. However, it’s better than Saudi Arabia or Iran hosting. Also, some had stated why there wasn’t this level of criticism or scrutiny when Russia hosted the tournament in 2018, given Putin’s actions in the region.
Ultimately, the test will be how well the tournament goes. Not just for the players but for the millions who have travelled to the country. No one can accuse Qatar of skimping when it comes to spending on stadia, infrastructure, and facilities. Some estimates put the total cost at $200 billion. Qatar isn’t a stranger to hosting duties. Over the past 15 years, it has hosted 500 international events across several sports.
COUNTERVIEW: Stain on the sport and FIFA
There’s been no shortage of criticisms, protests, and boycotts in the run-up to the tournament. Countries like the USA, England, and Australia have ethical qualms to deal with when it comes to lobbying. The absence of Western-style democracy in Qatar means the country doesn’t have to play by those rules. For its bid alone, Qatar reportedly spent $200 million compared to Australia’s $42.7 million. And that was $200 million in public funds. It’s unknown if private money was spent. If there was, it’s untraceable.
Blatter isn’t clean by any means. But it’s striking that the man who was involved in evaluating the bids and opened the envelope has come out to say the decision was a mistake. FIFA’s own record is also not clean. Some of its own officials have stated how it’s easier to deal with countries like Russia or Qatar than the USA, Japan, or England. In investigating Russia’s bid against corruption allegations, despite the country’s partial cooperation with the case, FIFA gave it a clean chit.
What Blatter didn’t state was Qatar’s human rights record. As the footballing world works to be more inclusive, Qatar is one of the outliers. Homosexuality is illegal in the country. For many LGBTQ fans, it could be a risk to travel. Some players, managers, and coaches have spoken about their support for LGBTQ fans during the World Cup. Some former players have even decided to boycott.
Then there’s the country’s treatment of migrant workers. The country relies on them year-round to build things. In the past decade, thousands have built new stadia and other large-scale infrastructure projects in preparation. However, several reports have outlined thousands of deaths at construction sites, something the government and organising committee haven’t denied but downplayed. The Human Rights Watch has led a campaign demanding the government act against reports of abuse, wage theft, injuries, and uncompensated deaths.
- How Qatar Won the Right to Host the 2022 FIFA World Cup – Bleacher Report
- Qatar timeline: From winning the World Cup bid in 2010 to now – AlJazeera
- Analyzing How The World Cup Bidding Process Works – World Soccer Talk
- World Cup Bidding Process Explained: How The 2018 & 2022 World Cup Hosts Are Chosen – Goal
- Qatar deserves this World Cup – DW
- I hate the very idea of this World Cup in Qatar, but I’ll have to watch: it’s the beautiful game – The Guardian
- FIFA World Cup 2022 | Qatar ready to display Arab world’s sporting might; Olympics next? – Moneycontrol
- Sepp Blatter says choosing Qatar to host World Cup was ‘a mistake’ – The Guardian
- Revealed: 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since World Cup awarded – The Guardian
- Qatar: FIFA World Cup Opens Without Remedy for Migrants – Human Rights Watch
What is your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) Qatar hosting the World Cup was the right decision.
b) Qatar hosting the World Cup was the wrong decision.
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🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Infra push boost enrolment in schools (Uttar Pradesh) – According to a state government report, the Uttar Pradesh government’s initiative to build additional restrooms for girls and upgrade other infrastructure in primary schools has led to a significant increase in student enrollment and attendance. In comparison to the 61% of primary schools in the state that had restrooms for girls in November 2019, this number increased to 97% in November of this year.
Why it matters: Due to the push for infrastructure, including the installation of numerous hand washing stations, enrollment and attendance in schools climbed to 1.91 crore in 2022–23 from 1.52 crore in 2016–17. In June 2018–19, the state government began “Operation Vidyalaya Kayakalp” to improve 19 infrastructure facilities in 1.33 lakh elementary schools.
No delivery of vehicles without registration (Manipur) – The Manipur Transport Department issued instructions to motor vehicle dealers not to deliver motor vehicles to buyers without registration and to forbid operating any motor vehicle in public locations without a valid registration number. According to a transport department order published on November 18, the action was taken in response to the large number of vehicles observed operating on highways without a fixed HSRP (High Security Registration Plate) or temporary registration number.
Why it matters: As a result, it is illegal for vehicles to operate on the road without a valid registration number (HSRP). According to the order, if a vehicle is discovered operating on the road without an HSRP, suitable legal action will be taken in accordance with section 192B(2) of the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Act 2019. Dealers and owners are both subject to penalty.
No COVID-19 restrictions as cases decrease (Odisha) – The state of Odisha has announced the lifting of the mandatory mask requirement, the ban on large gatherings, and other COVID-19 restrictions in response to the sharp decline in COVID cases in the state. The government also recommended citizens to continue exercising COVID measures in public and acting in a COVID-appropriate manner when necessary, in addition to notifying the public about the removal of mandatory mask restrictions.
Why it matters: The Odisha COVID-19 Regulations, 2020, as modified from time to time, will be repealed with immediate effect, according to a notification released by the Health and Family Welfare Department, in light of the state’s declining COVID-19 cases during the past several months.
Half of total voters below 40 years (Gujarat) – According to the Election Commission’s most recent enrollment data, out of the 4.9 crore registered voters, approximately 2.35 crore are under the age of 40. 11.74 lakh of these are first-time voters, which is fewer than the number of voters in the 18–19 age bracket in the 2012 and 2017 elections.
Why it matters: In fact, the only age group that has witnessed a decline in voters over the past five years is those between the ages of 18 and 19. The drop is especially noticeable because the Election Commission held special campaigns in September to encourage the registration of voters who will turn 18 on or before October 1, 2022.
Over 100 post offices to be shut down (Kerala) – The Department of Post intends to shut down post offices operating in rented spaces all over Kerala. People who work in the post offices that will close will be transferred to different departments within the Department of Post. Over 100 operational post offices will be attached to head post offices as a first step rather than having their leases renewed.
Why it matters: The majority of post offices in categories A, B, and C are located in rented buildings. These are the offices in Kerala that are closing. Before making a decision to gradually close down all of the post offices in the A, B, and C classes, the revenue from each one will be evaluated.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
41% – Hiring activity in India’s information technology and management sectors witnessed a slump as it declined by 41%, according to a study by staffing firm CIEL HR Services.