Politics and soccer: the perfect combo


Zealan Munsey, Photographer

It’s been something, hasn’t it?

This year’s World Cup was already slated to be quite a bit different than the tournaments of the past.

2022 marked the first time that the Middle East hosted the World Cup, with Qatar winning the bid from FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, in December of 2010.

It must be known to fans that big sporting companies have sponsorships. The National Football league’s official pizza sponsor is Little Caesar’s, for example.

It’s not a stretch to think that the FIFA World Cup, the biggest and most storied sporting event in the world, has quite a few sponsorships. The tournament brings in quite a bit of viewership and money, so it’s not too surprising.

One of the biggest sponsors of the World Cup happens to be Budweiser. The beer beverage is quite famous, so yes, they do sponsor quite a bit of sporting events and teams. It is estimated that Budweiser spends 75 million dollars every four years to be the official beer sponsor of the World Cup.

Let’s take a second to think. The odd thing about this specific sponsorship is that the official religion of Qatar is Islam, and it’s obvious that their values don’t match the environment of sports at all.

Alcohol is banned in the religion of Islam. Drinking alcoholic beverages is largely tied to going to a sports game. The adults get a hot dog or a burger, maybe some nachos, and most likely a beer or two. 

So was it really surprising when Qatar announced they would be banning the sale of alcohol at the World Cup venues? No, not really. What was baffling was the timing

Qatar won the bid to host the World Cup 12 years ago back in 2010. Did they say anything about the fact that they were going to ban alcohol and spit in the face of a $75 million dollar sponsor? It’s not like Islam stated alcohol was against their religion in the last 12 years. 

They waited until the week of the opening match to announce this, knowing nothing can be done at that point. FIFA couldn’t afford to delay the World Cup any further. In fact, it was supposed to start in the summer, but it was postponed to start on Nov. 20 and go until Dec. 18.

The cup was held in the winter due to the extreme summer heat of the Middle East. That’s already negative. The soccer clubs of the world are in the middle of their seasons right now. Leagues like the EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, and more had to stop their campaigns until the World Cup finished.

To clear up confusion, soccer players usually have two teams depending on their skill level: their national and club teams. Christain Pulisic is American, which is why he plays for the U.S. team in international games, but his club team is Chelsea, which is in the English Premier League. You can be Nigerian and also play for LOSC Lille in France.

Players had to leave their club and teammates in the middle of their season, go play against some of those club teammates that are of different nationalities, and then come back to their normal club opponents and teammates a month or so later. Say your country was eliminated right away, like Canada. The club season still isn’t starting, so you have at least a month off that you need to use to stay in shape and wait until your club starts back up.

A lot of things to think about, right? Why could the bid not have been awarded to another country that was dying to host the cup and actually had the resources to do it, like Japan or the U.S.A.?

Approximately 400 workers died in the construction of stadiums. Why would you ever appoint a country that is hosting it in the winter? Not only do workers have to work in extreme temperatures during the summer—causing some to die of heat stroke—but many fell from heights as well, showing that the working environment was beyond horrible.

Qatar is not a footballing country by nature. They had never qualified for the World Cup, but now they are hosting it? Qatar automatically qualified because they’re the hosts. Countries have always qualified on their own because why would they host it if they aren’t even good enough to make it?

Qatar isn’t the biggest supporter of human rights either. Same-sex marriage is not recognized, women have little to no rights and male homosexuality is illegal. How are we letting that slide and letting Qatar host the World Cup?

All around, this World Cup has been a failure. Sure, the matches were fun. But everything else besides the actual games was horrible. Some fans who wanted to stay at hotels provided by the cup, called fan villages (a normal thing for the World Cup to do), were forced to stay in renovated shipping containers boiling alive. Some tickets were refunded for no reason causing people to scramble to get their tickets back. Sounds organized, right?

The U.S. was the favorite to win the bid for the 2022 World Cup, but somehow, Qatar won. It was just what FIFA and huge international corporations do best: bribery and corruption.

It’s obvious that Qatar and FIFA had closed conversations. Would they really just pick a non-football country to host? Qatar lost all three games and was the bottom team in the whole World Cup. They have no football culture – at least compared to Europe, Africa, the Americas, and even Asia. 

We now have to wait four more years until Canada, Mexico and the United States joint-host the 2026 World Cup. That will sure be a sight to see.

Qatar was not cut out to host one of the largest sporting events ever. They aren’t loved socially and politically by the world and have no football culture whatsoever. The fact that they had to build stadiums just for this and tear them down right after is just more proof that they were poorly equipped.

But this year’s World Cup did have some electrifying moments. We got to watch Messi win gold in his last dance on the international stage and Kylian Mbappe drop a hat trick, three goals in one match, in the final and take home a Golden Boot at the age of 23. Morocco even became the first African nation to reach the semifinals, and that was truly awesome for the sport. The final was among the best ever, ending with a 3-3 draw, but then Argentina won in penalty kicks 4-2 to dethrone the defending champions of France.

Politics and sports don’t mix well very often. Throw in religious and social values, and you really got yourself a mess. The fans and players deserve better. I guess you get a 5/10 for this one, FIFA. Lionel Messi & the Argentines saved you some points.