Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world. The highly anticipated World Cup is taking place in November: This year the World Cup is taking place in Qatar, where 32 nations will gather for matches against one another. Since 1930, the World Cup has taken place in various countries around the world, however, this is the first time in the history of FIFA (International Federal Association Football) that a Middle East country has been chosen to host the international football tournament. Many times, misconceptions and stereotypes about the Middle East have circulated, especially when there is a war in play. Nevertheless, each nation has rules which end up in the media for debate – and the World Cup has started to highlight one of them: human rights.
Watford (an English football club) had offered a friendly match against Qatar -which was supposed to happen early July, but was called off after fans’ concerns over human rights. In Qatar, women, for instance, face discrimination in law and practice. There is the need for permission that lays in the hands of a male guardian that determines what they can or cannot do certain activities, such as marriage, divorce, study, work and even healthcare. For women in Qatar, there are no basic human rights. The same lack of rights applies to LGBT individuals as having the same-sex sexual relationships is considered a crime in Qatar. The Watford match was canceled after WOW (Women of Watford) and Proud Hornets, a community representing LGBT and Women rights raised their voice on concerns over Qatar’s human rights. Considering the outcome, both parties united themselves on their Twitter where they thank Watford FC for listening to their voices in support of “equality, diversity and inclusion rights.” Followers have positively manifested their opinion on the club’s decision through WOW’s twitter: “this is fantastic news. Well done! It’s good to know that our club is prepared to listen and take the right actions when necessary.” The Qatar Football Association has posted their response on Twitter as well, only mentioning proposals for friendly matches against “several European countries” but no word on the reason why the match was cancelled with Watford.
The discrimination against women and LBGT individuals in Qatar has been exposed throughout social media and has raised concerns and manifestations around the world. Because the World Cup is a global event, concerns as such couldn’t have been spotted in any other shape or form. Society is constantly fighting for rights, not just on the streets, but on social media as well.