Should we boycott the FIFA World Cup in Qatar? An environmental activist and a sports economist debate on franceinfo

Should we boycott the Football World Cup which begins in two months, from November 20 to December 18, in Qatar? The question is asked by many associations and NGOs for the defense of human rights and the environment. According to an Amnesty International report, more than 6,000 workers died building the stadiums that will be used for the event. The ecological question, with in particular the air conditioning of the stadiums, is also pointed out by the associations.

>> REPLAY – Boycotting the World Cup in Qatar: the great hypocrisy? franceinfo Talk

On franceinfo, Adelaide Charlier, the co-founder with Greta Thunberg of the climate movement Youth For Climate talks about a World Cup « unacceptable » and call for a « diplomatic boycott ». Vincent Chaudel, sports economist and co-founder of the Sport Business Observatory, sees this event as a way to « to make things progress » and speak out against a boycott.

franceinfo: Adélaïde Charlier, what do you think is the main argument for calling for a boycott of this Football World Cup?

Adelaide Charlier: What we find around this World Cup is extremely problematic. This event is very important for Qatar because I remind you that this is the first time that we will find a sporting event like the World Cup in the Middle East. It is symbolic and important. Behind the organization of this World Cup, there is always the same problem that we denounce, that is to say exploitation.

« There have been thousands of deaths to build the stadiums, there is a violation of many human rights, there are excessive working hours, forced labor. »

Adélaïde Charlier, co-founder of Youth For Climate

at franceinfo

And then, on the spot, there will also be a non-respect of human rights for the spectators, in particular on the question of the representation of LGBTQI +. Qatar is absolutely not a secure country vis-à-vis the question of human rights. We must be able to send a strong message to say that it is unacceptable to find in 2022 a gathering within a sporting event at the cost of the lives of thousands of people.

franceinfo: Vincent Chaudel, do you hear these arguments on human rights in Qatar as well as working conditions on construction sites and the thousands of deaths?

Vincent Chaudel: I hear them and I don’t deny them. However, I say that we are in a changing world. You have to point out all these subjects but precisely, the strength of sport is to make things evolve.

Already, we have to go back to the principle of world sports bodies, which have historically been built in a form of independence from political power, which allowed them to be a geopolitical tool and precisely to go and see everyone and keep talking with everyone. One can, for example, regret having entrusted the Olympic Games to Hitler’s Germany. But what was the most beautiful symbol that Jesse Owens wins medals in front of Hitler and which demonstrates by the absurd that there is no superiority of the Aryan race?

So it’s not a new phenomenon. The 1978 FIFA World Cup was played during the Argentine dictatorship. We were in China for the 2008 Olympics or for the Winter Games this year. In both cases, there was already the problem of the Uyghurs, there was the problem of Tibet.

« The truth is that with these kinds of events, there is a before and an after. It never moves fast enough but it does move the lines. »

Vincent Chaudel, sports economist

at franceinfo

For example, the minimum wage in Qatar is still too low, but it has quadrupled since the World Cup was awarded. There was also compensation in relation to housing which has progressed. In short, things never move fast enough, but they do.

franceinfo: Do ​​you think, Adelaïde Charlier, that we can make things happen by shining the spotlight on what is happening in Qatar?

Adelaide Charlier: It is obvious that it is important to use this moment to challenge now. Stadiums have been in the process of being built for more than ten years now. We will not be able to go back on these deaths and on what happened. In the meantime, these are things that have happened because Qatar is very intensively creating buildings and facilities to host a World Cup.

There is also the question of air-conditioned stadiums. This is obviously nonsense in the face of an ecological crisis, a climate crisis and an energy crisis, a crisis that will affect the whole world in the long term. It is illusory to imagine building huge air-conditioned stadiums. Instead, we should be moving towards energy sobriety.

franceinfo: On this ecological aberration, Vincent Chaudel, do you agree?

Vincent Chaudel: We can always say what we want about that. But when in Europe, we play in the middle of winter and all the stadiums are heated to heat the lawn, to heat the boxes, it’s the mirror effect. Obviously in hot countries, we will not heat, we will cool. If we do a World Cup in winter, it is precisely to play at respectable temperatures. We will be around 30 degrees in November and December in Qatar.

franceinfo: In a word, Adélaïde Charlier, what type of boycott are you calling for?

Adelaide Charlier: For my part, I first call for the responsibility of FIFA to continue to launch investigations and to take its responsibility in the face of this. Moreover, as it is the second most watched sporting event in the world, there is a responsibility on the part of sportspeople and the media. I therefore call for a diplomatic boycott, that is to say that we must be able to challenge all the politicians who are going to meet there on the spot.

“It is absolutely necessary to boycott and send a strong message for this non-respect of human rights which is unacceptable today in 2022.”

Adélaïde Charlier, co-founder of Youth for Climate

at franceinfo

Above all, we must not accept what has happened and continues to happen at the moment in Qatar. I also call on all citizens to organize themselves together to carry out various symbolic and strong actions that can challenge around the way in which today, we have accepted that an event like this is happening.

franceinfo: Is the idea of ​​a diplomatic boycott, namely political figures who would not make the trip, possible?

Vincent Chaudel: This is what happened in 2008 during the Beijing Olympics. What is however interesting to watch is that Amnesty International is not for the boycott of this Football World Cup.

« Making messages across is one thing. Boycotting is another thing. You had to boycott before or refuse before. »

Vincent Chaudel, sports economist

at franceinfo

Now we have to go and play, and maybe bring the third star. This is perhaps the most important for France.

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