Citing a confidential assessment by former South African police chief Andre Pruis, British media is trying to make the case that Qatar is too vulnerable to terrorism to serve as host. As someone who has worked on counter-terrorism issues for nearly 20 years, I find this argument wrong for three key reasons.
Workers explained their circumstances. As we sat with them in the terribly overcrowded 'bedrooms' many wept from sheer frustration. Returning home to massive debts chalked up by payment to labour agents is a humiliating prospect that has led some migrant workers to take their own lives. Agents actively recruit workers in poverty stricken and jobless countries. I wondered about the men I met who will return home alive or uninjured, who will repay their debt and who will survive the shame if they "fail". I looked workers in the eye and felt immense anger at the betrayal of their human rights.
Compare and contrast. In a few years' time several hundred professional footballers from all over the world will arrive in the Gulf state of Qatar to take part in the 2022 World Cup... Meanwhile, during the same period in mid-2022, it's very likely that several hundred other overseas workers will arrive at the always-overcrowded Doha International Airport.
FIFA seems to treat this kind of scrutiny with complete contempt. It needs to realise that it does not own world football; but is merely the governing body of the sport. It gives the impression of being full of a lot of hard faced old men who have grown rich from the game, and whose instinctive response to any crisis is to cover for each other.
It's been proposed that, since it's popular in Russian law, it's not the job of the Western world to change it. This is ridiculous on many levels. Firstly, a human rights violation is a human rights violation, regardless of whether anyone, majority or minority, elite or common, thinks it's a good thing.