The U.S. Should Have Gone to the World Cup

The 2022 World Cup hosted in Qatar will forever be regarded as one of the most controversial in the tournament’s history. Qatar garnered a lot of media attention for its questionable beliefs, ethics, and actions, such as discrimination against the LGBTQ community, and the deaths of thousands of construction workers. This is undoubtedly a tragedy but unfortunately there is very little influence other countries can exert on Qatar, and that is the sad truth; the USMNT is no exception.
After the general public became aware of the human rights violations that Qatar was committing there was huge turmoil to say the least. The United States, among many other countries, disapproved highly of Qatar’s human rights practices, and some even argued for a boycott of the tournament. Denouncing Qatar is one thing, but boycotting the tournament altogether would have been a reach.
First of all, Qatar is a Muslim country, and therefore many Westerners are inclined to disagree with their customs because the cultures are drastically divergent. Due to their religion, the country is against homosexuality and therefore tourists who visited this World Cup, found that they faced consequences for publicly displaying their LGBTQ pride. While it is completely acceptable to be gay, it is also important to be aware of foreign customs and not publicly disrespect their culture.
In addition, staying in the tournament allowed for the U.S. national team to practice safe methods of protest in one of the biggest stages in the world. For example, the German national team covered their mouths in a team picture as a form of protest against Qatar and FIFA, the corrupt international soccer federation that gave hosting rights to Qatar.
The World Cup is arguably the most inclusive event in the world, where billions of people from different countries gather together to share one passion for the beautiful game. By focusing on the negatives of the tournament, it polarizes this special experience and causes more harm than good. It is unfortunate that Qatar was chosen to host, but it is a world unto itself, and the politics of the country will not change because western countries are upset with their beliefs.
Disrupting this unique event is selfish because it is ignoring the bigger picture. Children from diverse backgrounds around the globe are dreaming of one day playing in this tournament and lifting their families out of poverty. A boy in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro is watching Richarlison’s bicycle kick, Neymar’s unique flair, and aspiring to one day become that great. Those poor neighborhoods are engulfed in drugs and violence and that is when soccer becomes a way out for these kids. People from privileged backgrounds have a hard time grasping this concept and would rather bring the tournament to a halt because they don’t agree with Qatari practices.
From a Western perspective, Qatar’s human rights record, its form of government, and some of the country’s beliefs are not acceptable. On the other hand, there has been a long history of people in the West critiquing non-western countries for holding divergent ideas and beliefs. In the non-Western world, this Western critique is a very sensitive issue especially since many non-western countries were once colonies of the west. Finally, people in first world countries need to do a better job of acknowledging their own deficiencies.
This World Cup has had a great impact on individuals and countries alike. For the first time an African country, Morocco, reached the semi-finals. This was meaningful in Africa and the Middle-East as well as with members of the Moroccan diaspora working in different parts of Europe. Oftentimes, these Moroccan immigrant workers in Europe, perform the lowliest tasks and are treated in discriminatory ways. This is the other side of the coin to Western critiques of Qatar.
While this World Cup should never have been assigned to Qatar, it has served to shine a light on many types of problems both in Qatar and the Western countries. The critiques have also been very uncomfortable for the world soccer federation FIFA and all of the countries and people associated with the decision to award the World Cup to Qatar. The hope is that these debates will bring about positive changes. Without the full participation in the World Cup, these types of debates occurring in homes across the world would not have been possible.