Western world in no position to virtue signal on Qatar World Cup location

West’s criticism of event demonstrate a feeling of superiority in their ideologies



An activist from Extinction Rebellion fixes a sticker on her anorak during a protest against the soccer World Cup being held in Qatar

It’s football season, and with the kickoff of the 2022 World Cup comes a kickoff of criticism of the event and the organizers, specifically the choice of the location being in Qatar. 

The complaints range from small issues––such as restriction of alcohol, modest dress and behavior, no smoking—-to larger issues like rulings on homosexuality and worker abuse. 

What happened to acknowledging our differences? Instead, the West feels entitled to give the rest of the world moral lessons in organizing an event that’s held in a setting that is unfamiliar with Western culture.

Obviously, each of these restrictions are nuanced and complicated in their own ways and I’m not here to say what is right or wrong. Yet, the outrage towards the Qatari World Cup is one we’ve never seen before, which is the issue. If people truly cared for the issues they stood for, they wouldn’t pretend to stand for them only when an event took place in a country whose name they couldn’t pronounce or culture they couldn’t understand.

The West’s criticism of the event through mainstream media and social media demonstrate a superiority in their ideologies compared to the rest of the world. They reason through their own lens, looking at their own countries. They look at the alcohol in their own bars, the bareness of their own people, and their ability to act however they want and then compare them to countries like Qatar and complain. This lifestyle isn’t relatively wrong, however it isn’t relatively right either.

Obviously, the West is entitled to their beliefs and actions when something like the World Cup is in the UK or USA, but the moment that it takes place in a location like Qatar, people extend no sympathy or understanding on the cultural differences that can be found throughout the world.

What happened to acknowledging our differences? Instead, the West feels entitled to give the rest of the world moral lessons in organizing an event that’s held in a setting that is unfamiliar with Western culture.

I think this quote by FIFA president Gianni Infantino articulates the problem well: “For what we [Europeans] have been doing for the last 3000 years around the world, we should be apologizing for the next 3000 years before giving moral lessons.”

The West throughout history has been pillaging areas and resources like countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and South America with no regret or thought to local nations. This colonialism still exists—however, this time it’s the pillaging of beliefs and culture. There is a belief that the West needs to liberate the “East” or the “Orient” of their “authoritative” ideologies. We grew up with our own culture, a culture our parents grew up with, what our ancestors before them fought for, so why try to “free” us of it?

However, one must address the large issues like the accusations of slave use and dangerous working conditions in the creation of the World Cup stadiums. Such violations of humans must be condemned in all forms. Yet even in criticism of something we all can agree on, the West demonstrates hypocrisy in cherry picking when they want to criticize certain events. 

Where was the West, for instance, when China hosted the 2022 Winter Olympics while they committed a genocide against the Uighur Muslim population, sterilizing women, forcing labor, sending Uighurs to concentration camps, and surveilling them? What happened to the encroachment of Tibet and Hong Kong and Taiwan by China?

Where was the West when Russia hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2018 while they continued to occupy Crimea from Ukraine in 2014? What happened to the workers who built the stadiums, who were exploited, not paid their wages, and punished for reporting bad working conditions? What happened to the suppression of political opposition and torturing of homosexuals and Chechens?

Where was the West when Israel hosted Eurovision in 2018 while they pillaged and destroyed the homes of Palestinians, sieged Gaza for decades, settled on Palestinian land for their own people, and killed Palestinian children with their missiles and IDF?

And where will the West be when America will host the Summer Olympics in 2028 while they continue to torture innocents in sites like Guantanamo, promote gun violence and do nothing to stop shootings, and allow abortion to be overturned?

I have a prediction where we’ll be: continuing on with the festivities. It’s only when the rest of the world does wrong that moral flags are raised.