When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Society

Let's Not Forget The Original Sin Of The Qatar World Cup: Greed

Soccer is a useful political tool for dictatorships. But Qatar is able to milk the World Cup as much as possible because the sport is infected by unbridled capitalistic greed.

Photo of a street in Doha, Qatar, with a building displaying a giant ad for the 2022 World Cup

World Cup ad in Doha, Qatar

Reinaldo Spitaletta

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — Soccer lost its innocence years ago. Its history of spectacular feats and heart-wrenching moments contain a catalogue of outrages. Beyond the miracles and goals, the "beautiful game" must face up to its own infection by capitalism and greed for profits.


The soccer governing body FIFA, a private multinational that meddles unchecked in the public sphere, has become a byword for excess and shady financial practices. The Qatar World Cup illustrates this perfectly.

Money knows best

Beyond the many marvels of the game, soccer has served to hide brutality and ignominies. Today, it is helping Qatar's ruling elite display boundless power in a land where the people don't receive the benefits.

Qatar snatched the opportunity, not with prayers and piety but with gold.

Even before 2010, Qatar's shady dealings and strong-arm tactics were somewhat known. But FIFA, which has little time for petty details like a host country's hellish conditions, let the country host the World Cup. The pressures, deceit, political haggling and payments that led to this decision are widely know, but they just called this old-fashioned business. Money knows best, bless it.

Qatar snatched the opportunity, not with prayers and piety but with gold. Better still, it was black gold, which made it all possible — nay, inevitable. FIFA's former President Sepp Blatter later belatedly admitted that picking Qatar was a mistake.

But the die had been cast, and the event demands a colosseum. That is where the migrants come in, from Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka or Nepal, working from "January to January" and "Sunday through Sunday" without rights but with so many needs. In the eyes of the elite, they exist to be exploited by the untouchable rich and their banks, who are there to run things.

Building stadiums in Qatar ahead of the World Cup

Sharifulin Valery/TASS/ZUMA

What's the price of quashing human rights?

Thanks to investigations by places like The Guardian, the world began to learn about the mistreatment of workers in Qatar. It was already a harsh place for press freedoms, women and LGBTQ+ people, but now migrants were being worked to death. A stadium was built with the blood of workers.

A stadium was built with the blood of workers.

As The Guardian observed, more than 6,500 workers have died building the shining structures now hosting the games. Was it worth it? Should we care about a few thousand families mourning a relative who will not return, or that Qatar quashes freedoms for women and gays?

Soccer is more than just a game. Italy's dictator Mussolini knew it in 1934, as did the Nazis, some African dictators and the Brazilian generals who were enthralled by Pele's genius. The Argentine junta knew it in 1978, when cheering crowds obliterated the sound of detainees screaming under torture.

Soccer needs a bit of blood and sacrifice, they'll say — watch that expert dribbling or gobsmacking goal, and forget the injustice.


You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Future

Hey ChatGPT, Are You A Google Killer? That's The Wrong Prompt People

Reports that the new AI natural-language chatbot is a threat to Google's search business fails to see that the two machines serve very different functions.

Photo of bubbles exploding

Mind blowing power

DeepMind
Tristan Greene

Since OpenAI unveiled ChatGPT to the world last November, people have wasted little time finding imaginative uses for the eerily human-like chatbot. They have used it to generate code, create Dungeons & Dragons adventures and converse on a seemingly infinite array of topics.

Now some in Silicon Valley are speculating that the masses might come to adopt the ChatGPT-style bots as an alternative to traditional internet searches.

Microsoft, which made an early $1 billion investment in OpenAI, plans to release an implementation of its Bing search engine that incorporates ChatGPT before the end of March. According to a recent article in The New York Times, Google has declared “code red” over fears ChatGPT could pose a significant threat to its $149-billion-dollar-a-year search business.

Could ChatGPT really be on the verge of disrupting the global search engine industry?

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest