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There have been huge controversies surrounding the World Cup being hosted in Qatar ever since the tournament was awarded to them back in 2010. With the tournament kicking off this week though things have intensified. Pundits and players haven’t shied away from the controversies but some have been more direct than others. One name that is known for cutting through the detail and getting to the crunch in his punditry is Roy Keane and the former Republic of Ireland man hasn’t disappointed here either.
Why is the World Cup in Qatar controversial?
You can trace the controversy surrounding Qatar’s World Cup all the way back to the initial awarding of the tournament; FIFA were accused of taking bribes and selling out for money. Since then there have been a number of factors that have had the spotlight shined upon them. Firstly, there were reports of thousands upon thousands of migrant workers dying whilst building the World Cup stadiums. On top of that, their accommodation and pay are appalling.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg though. Beyond the migrant worker issues there are widespread concerns over the Qatari human rights policies, misogyny and homophobia. In the build up to the World Cup there has been a lot of talk about nations taking a stand with symbolic gestures and pundits using their platform to highlight the issues. Since the World Cup edged closer – and now started – things have cranked up a level.
What is the current situation?
On the eve of the World Cup FIFA announced a drinking ban in stadiums. This was widely accepted as something that was respecting the culture and religion of the host country, Qatar. It wasn’t, however, an announcement that didn’t raise an eyebrow namely because of a) the timing, b) the fact FIFA have a multi-million pound deal with Budweiser and c) the fact that top end hospitality ticket holders can still pick up booze.
The biggest issue, however, emerged on day two of the World Cup. England and Wales were both playing that day with their respective captains, Harry Kane and Gareth Bale, having made it clear they intended to wear the ‘One Love’ armband; this is a symbol of the LGBTQ+ movement. On the morning of the games, FIFA announced that any players wearing the ‘One Love’ armband would be booked at kick off; the reason behind this being that it was deemed a political statement, which goes against the FIFA rulebook. This approach from FIFA has intensified over recent days with Belgium seeing two of their kits – their second strip and warm up tops – banned under the same guidance.
Belgium are yet to play at the tournament but England and Wales relented on their decision to wear the armbands.
How have fans and pundits reacted?
When the news of Kane and Bale backing down on their armband pledges broke, fans were largely outraged with their anger pointed at the football governing bodies for the respective countries owing to their lack of backbone.
Pundits, however, were more balanced with their views as they attempt to condemn the issues in Qatar whilst toeing the line of their respective broadcasters. Roy Keane, however, did not hold back. Keane is working as a pundit on ITV and when asked for his opinion on the armband debate he was clear in his view stating the players should “have done it in the first game and took the punishment” if it’s something they really believe in.
Roy Keane has his say on the OneLove 🏳️🌈 armband debate…pic.twitter.com/WP38Fvj4rc
— Football Tweet ⚽ (@Football__Tweet) November 21, 2022
It was a stance that Keane was applauded for and yesterday he went even further during ITV’s coverage as he tackled the World Cup as a whole as he said “The World Cup shouldn’t be here, you’ve got a country and the way they treat migrant workers, gay people. We’re on about spreading the game but dismissing human rights, it’s not right. It shouldn’t be here”.