Eric Fichtl

Not this time, FIFA

On boycotting the 2022 World Cup.


This text originally published: 20 November 2022



Not this time, FIFA.

I love football. I love the international game more than the club game. I eagerly await these tournaments, following all the qualification rounds. I’ve been to a men’s and a women’s World Cup.

But I won’t be watching any of this year’s World Cup.

I can’t bring myself to look at those stadia and see them as anything other than grim monuments to everything wrong with the tournament – the deaths and the labour rights violations of migrant workers, the only recently revised kafala servitude system used to build this sports-washing showpiece, the coddling of a host with laws that run counter to world football’s stated commitments to inclusion and tolerance, the dubious bidding process that even Sepp Blatter has repudiated (albeit self-servingly). And although Qatar moved to clean up its act, the reports kept coming. Too little, too late.

Have past World Cups gone to questionable hosts? Absolutely. FIFA is loath to reconsider its decisions, even in the face of hosts undergoing military coups or invading their neighbours. They just don’t think enough of us care, and perhaps they are right.

But FIFA and its sponsors need to understand their role in enabling so much of what is wrong with these tournaments and the ways in which the associated governments use these spectacles — all of that can’t be brushed aside by pointing to a few magical moments on the pitch or unveiling a slick new ad campaign.

So, not this time FIFA. I’m sure I’ll miss the football, but I know I’m not the only one who refuses to recognise this as the beautiful game.