February 3, 2023

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The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is going viral for all the wrong reasons

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar hasn’t even started yet and is already going viral for all the wrong reasons. The fan accommodations are reminiscent of Fyre Fest, the food doesn’t look good, everything is expensive and some of the fears that Qatar is home to an international community are already coming true.

So yeah, things aren’t going too well so far.

The feasibility and morality of the World Cup in Qatar has been questioned since the day FIFA chose it as the host country. In summary, US prosecutors have claimed the selection process was corrupt 12 years ago and has only gotten worse since then. The dates had to be postponed because Qatar’s summer is too hot to play football, the country has strict rules banning homosexuality and there are widespread allegations of serious abuse and mistreatment of migrant workers who run the tournament’s infrastructure have built up. Given Qatar’s secrecy, it’s difficult to know the true death toll, but according to some counts, thousands of workers are said to have died.

Qatar had to build infrastructure for the World Cup from scratch and they reportedly spent US$300 billion on infrastructure projects to accommodate the 1.2 million football fans expected to come to the sporting event. However, the tournament begins on Sunday 20 November and fans and journalists arriving at the site will discover first-hand the reality of Qatar’s rush.

First things first: The World Cup fan accommodations don’t seem great. You can stay in a shipping container for $200 a night. There were also tent villages looking incredibly nude in a video that went viral this week.

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Pretty much everyone online made the same connection to Fyre Fest, the doomed music festival that made national headlines in 2017.

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And to be fair, the jokes seem to have some validity to them. The pop-up villages, one of which is located at the main airport, were created because Qatar’s hotels could not handle the number of fans, athletes and other World Cup travelers.

Oh, and the food in the fand villages? Not ideal from a viral image we’ve seen so far. (One is reminded of the infamous cheese on bread at Fyre Fest.)

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If you want alcohol – which, let’s face it, this is the World Cup and a lot of people do – then you’ll probably have to do a bit of searching. And you have to pay. Public consumption of alcohol is banned in Qatar with exceptions for the World Cup. But it’s super expensive and hard to find because the government wanted it hidden. Indeed, just days before the start of the tournament, senior Qatari officials reportedly called for main sponsor Budweiser’s beer tents to be moved out of sight. If you find a beer, it’s said to cost $14. People on the internet are not happy about this price.

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Last but not least, disputes have already arisen between Qatar and the foreign press. Officials interrupted a Danish live broadcast of the World Cup and threatened to break their camera. Not a great first viral story from scratch.

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The first kick hasn’t even happened yet and the 2022 World Cup is already looking like a minor disaster.