9. How can I watch the World Cup responsibly?

So, you’re watching the World Cup. There’s no way back now (although you could always stop watching after your favorite team is eliminated). You’re part of it. For us, the most responsible way to deal with Qatar 2022 is to not deal with it at all, by refusing to watch a single minute of it. But for you, there might be all kinds of reasons to tune in.

Maybe you feel like boycotting won’t make any difference (some thoughts on that here). Maybe you just can’t bear to miss out on Lionel Messi’s final World Cup. Maybe you’ve got a lot on your plate right now and the only thing to get you through a dark winter’s day is watching football. Maybe you want to hang out with your friends and family as they gather around the screen. Who are we to judge?

But you could do the bare minimum: be aware of all the issues surrounding the Qatar World Cup. There’s plenty of reporting on the dark sides on this World Cup, just a little bit of reading would give you a sense of what’s wrong. You don’t have to know the details to know that this isn’t your average World Cup, to put it mildly.

If you’ve been following us and/or grassroots activists or media outlets, doing your ‘due diligence’, and you’re fully aware of the issues: great! Considering all the relevant info, you’ve still decided to watch the World Cup, but at the same time, you’d like to do something about the human rights abuses in Qatar. You’d like to help improve the situation of the millions of migrant workers in the Gulf State, the prosecuted LGBTI+ Qataris and/or the women being oppressed. Or maybe you’d like to push back against FIFA’s absurd way of running (ruining?) your favorite sport.

Amplify the critics

There’s a couple of options for you. First of all, you can still support any kind of critical reporting or discussion about the dark side of this World Cup. Keep bringing it up with family and friends, keep mentioning it online, keep reading, liking, sharing all the critical reporting which will hopefully come from Qatar in the coming month. Keep an eye on The Guardian, The Independent, or the excellent Josimar Football. They’ve already done a lot of great reporting on Qatar, so you might also consider contributing financially. Through your donation, they can keep putting pressure on both FIFA and the Qatari regime.

In the same vein, you can amplify human rights organisations which are creating awareness, helping migrant workers and Qatar’s oppressed people, and keep calling for a compensation fund for World Cup workers and their families. These include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Equidem. We would like to specifically mention Migrant-Rights, as it’s an organization focused on migrant rights in the Middle East. You can find more resources at our donations page.

You could also support grassroots activists on social media, like Nass Mohamed, the only openly gay Qatari, who’s had to leave the country but champions LGBTI+ rights from the US. Also, you could follow our Dutch friends over at Cancel Qatar 2022, British initiative @boycottwcqatar2022, German fan movement @boycott_qatar_2022 or the amazing Danish project Cards of Qatar, which made a Panini-style sticker album of migrant worker’s portraits. All these (and many more) fan initiatives will keep making noise during the entire World Cup, please help them do so.

Don’t support Qatar, FIFA or profiting companies

While amplifying all these voices, you could ignore other voices at the same time. Don’t follow any official World Cup or FIFA media, stop following any football media refusing to be critical of the Qatar World Cup, consider boycotting the World Cup’s official sponsors (who likes Budweiser anyway?), don’t buy any World Cup-related merchandise, don’t bet on matches. These companies and organizations are (indirectly) profiting off forced labor and oppression through your views, clicks, likes, purchases, etc. Also, ignore media outlets Al Jazeera, BeIN Sports and Doha News. These are Qatari state-sponsored media, pushing propaganda.

Basically, just watch the games and then turn off your TV.

But maybe you don’t even need to turn on your TV. In order not to support your country’s media outlet making money by broadcasting the World Cup, you could stream matches online. Of course, these streaming platforms will still profit, but at least you’re not contributing to viewership numbers, a prime way in which FIFA determines whether this World Cup is a success or not.

And maybe you don’t want to watch at home. Then we’d recommend you to visit a local bar. The owners will make a buck but at least it’s a small business owner whose probably had a rough time during the pandemic. It’s a lot better to support them, then huge corporations organizing mega events with big screens for massive audiences.

Keep pushing after the World Cup

Finally, and very importantly, you might help make sure a World Cup like this will never happen again. FIFA president Gianni Infantino openly supports the Russian and Qatari regimes and is now about to be re-elected. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you and me can do about it directly.

But indirectly, we can do at least something. Again, we can support critical football reporting being done on FIFA’s inner workings and its dubious decisions. Maybe one day all this pressure might change something. After all, media investigations helped to bring down Sepp Blatter and his corrupt accomplices.

Also, we can try to be mindful of the bigger developments happening in football at the moment. Countries like Qatar, but also Saudi Arabia or China, and large investment funds (mainly from the US) are buying clubs left and right. This gives clubs unfair advantages, like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain buying up all the best players. But they’re also building Multi-club ownerships (MCOs), buying several clubs in different countries in order to evade financial regulations.

All this is eroding the unpredictability and fair competition in our sport. It has turned football into a business tool and a political tool. The Qatar World Cup symbolizes both, but it’s only part of this larger picture. Push back in any way you can. If your own club might be sold to such an owner, fight back like fans at Dutch club NAC Breda managed to do. And keep criticizing clubs like City, PSG or Newcastle United, but also Chelsea or United for the US investors trying to make a buck without caring about football.

Football is in danger and this won’t be over after the Qatar World Cup. Keep asking questions. Keep pushing back.

Also, let’s not leave migrant workers, women and LGBTI+ people to their fates after the footballing circus has left Qatar. By supporting the human rights organizations and grassroots activists mentioned above, we can hopefully contribute to meaningful change in the Gulf State (and neighbouring countries). At the same time, let’s not forget about Western countries’ roles in keeping South East Asian and African countries poor and Gulf State countries rich, which is why migrant workers go to Qatar in the first place. If you live in a Western country, be critical of your own government!

When you tune in this month, have fun. But, at the same time, be mindful and try to do your part in the monumental task ahead: cleaning up football after this dirty, dirty World Cup.


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