Calls to boycott Fifa Qatar World Cup 2022 by the West is ‘hypocritical and shameful’
- Critics in the West have condemned World Cup host Qatar for its standard of labour rights, its stand on LGBTQ issues and have called for a boycott
- Those calls to boycott the football tournament scream of Western hypocrisy, resentment and a superiority complex writes author Chandran Nair
For all who were involved to now point fingers at Qatar is sheer hypocrisy.
During an interview on October 27, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said, “There are criteria that must be adhered to and it would be better that tournaments are not awarded to such states.” By this, she means Western norms.
If the 2022 World Cup had been awarded to the US, Spain or Australia who bid but lost, there would have been no outrage at FIFA and no suggestion that there was any wrong doing despite what we now know about how it operated for decades.
Yet the topics of human rights abuses, racism, and freedom of speech are fervently placed under the microscope every time an international sporting event is held in a non-Western nation.
Of course, it is extremely important to challenge countries to use these events as opportunities to improve the quality of life of their citizens and residents. But it can be done constructively through designated channels, with diplomacy that aims to build relationships in the spirit of cooperation as an international community, rather than forcing the West’s hypocritical standards onto them.
Fifa has even reportedly brokered a “secret understanding” with Qatar, allowing fans to kiss and hold hands in public. Expression of identity is good, but it is astounding that Fifa feels entitled to influence the cultural norms of an entire nation for the duration of its tournament. In most parts of the world, it is not common to display affection in public. Yet because it is typical behaviour in the West, its media and the public believe it needs to be accepted and imposed on the global majority.
Conversely, Western countries would never change their cultural norms for the sake of a sports tournament, especially if the governing body of that event were to be based in a non-Western nation. This comes from a deep-seated mindset of superiority: that the West’s way of living is superior, and other nations are backward because they have yet to adopt its notions of modernity.
The pattern to Western critique of international sporting events is an industrial effort to secure the moral high ground and perpetuate the West-vs-Rest power gradient. International sport, like any other international arena, is an opportunity for geopolitical gain, and the West’s behaviour towards non-Western countries in the sporting world is another example of global inequity and how Western privilege works. It is utterly counterproductive, offensive and shameful.
Chandran Nair is the founder of the Global Institute for Tomorrow and ExCom member of the Club of Rome. He is also the author of “Dismantling Global White Privilege: Equity for a Post-Western World