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US columnist: Qatar World Cup highlights Western double standards | Updated: 2022-11-29 10:01
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People stand in a square ahead of the FIFA 2022 World cup soccer tournament at Katara Cultural Village in Doha, Qatar November 15, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

Criticisms surrounding Qatar's capacity and worthiness to hold the FIFA World Cup since the tiny Persian Gulf country won the bid has revealed the depths of Western prejudice, performative moral outrage and, perhaps most significantly, gross double standards, says a column article published on MSNBC' s website on November 20, 2022.

Negative and racist commentary about the host country has included reports suggesting fans were paid to appear, migrant workers' human rights and ideas that an Arab Middle Eastern country are not able to host such a big soccer tournament.

Ayman Mohyeldin, a MSNBC opinion columnist who had lived and worked in Qatar for five years, said Qatar has made progress and development, though improvement is still needed. And the country has done its best to balance social conservatism and limitations in order to welcome fans from different backgrounds while persevering its own cultural and religious norms and traditions.

Mohyeldin said Europeans and Americans should set a better example of how migrants in their own countries are treated. A recent inquiry concluded that France and the UK let 27 people die while the countries argued about who should rescue a sinking vessel with the migrants on board. If the Danish federation wants to oppose migrant conditions in Qatar, it should also protest conditions in Europe. Americans decrying Qatar's migrant labor policies should likewise use the opportunity to discuss solutions to their own brutal treatment of migrants.

When Qatar won the bid to host the World Cup, some questioned how a country with little soccer history was allowed to host it. Such arguments belittle the purpose of the tournament, and ignore history, Mohyeldin said. He cited when the US won the World Cup, the country did not even have a professional soccer league. Japan and South Korea were hardly soccer nations and yet with the arrival of the World Cup to these countries, the sport has taken off in meaningful and lasting ways.

Qatar is currently the reigning Asian champion team and a major purpose of the tournament is to advance and promote the sport as a form of positive development, Mohyeldin said.

The tournament's schedule was shifted to the cooler months of November and December to avoid the stifling heat, leaving many European soccer leagues and teams crying foul for disrupting their annual seasons and schedules. But no one seemed to complain that holding the tournament in summer months was going to disadvantage South American countries, which had to adjust to playing during their own seasons but had claimed nine World Cup championships among them.

No one is saying Qatar is perfect, Mohyeldin said, urging that one should be more nuanced in critiques and resist simply parroting generic biased accusations, without some self-reflection.

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