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This evening, England kick off their World Cup 2022 campaign with the visit of San Marino to Wembley. As everyone knows, the finals will be staged in the winter in order to offset the problems of summer heat.
But at what cost? The football world was surprised to say the least at the selection of Qatar as the host country but since that decision was announced a furious building programme has evolved to stage the tournament. Whatever the reason for choosing Qatar what can’t be overlooked was highlighted in the Guardian this week. During the building of these stadia, 6,500 workers have lost their lives. These are mostly migrant labourers brought in from South Asia. Health & Safety appears to have purely been a foreign phenomenon.
Last night the Norwegian team made a gesture before their World Cup qualifier to highlight this appalling loss of life. But what about the “home” nations? We are bombarded with political messages every week from anti-racism to prostate cancer. Football is seen as a vehicle for change & education. But surely these worthwhile causes pale into insignificance compared to 6,500 deaths to stage a month-long tournament?
Personally I would have preferred England not to take part - but that would never happen due to the financial gains to be made during a World Cup final tournament. But at what price? 6,500 deaths, 65,000 deaths or 650,000 deaths? Which is the point at which the morality of the situation is bad enough to make the authorities say “Enough is enough”. While football can continue with mere slogans and token gestures it will do so. Football has its roots among working-class factory employees. Yet in Qatar 6,500 seem expendable.
World Cup 2022 will not stop for the deaths of 6,500 construction workers - they are purely collateral damage. But football fans can affect it. I won’t be watching it & will make every effort to avoid buying the products that will pay millions to get their name in front of a worldwide audience. Sometimes, when the authorities don’t act, you have to make a personal stand and say “Enough is enough”.