FIFA’s Failure to the Host Nations


I have grown up looking up to FIFA as the shining light within the soccer world. They were able to take advantage of the rise of globalization and create a soccer culture consistent throughout the world. Even though many of these nations were extremely poor, they were still able to field a team and challenge some of the superpower soccer countries. The amazing thing about FIFA is that when the world cup is being hosted by a nation like South Africa it places the country on the world map. It is a time for the nation to demonstrate its national pride and hospitality. This results in the international media constantly ridiculing it. This can be extremely beneficial for a place like South Africa, where they were able to show the world that they had taken important steps since the ending of apartheid, but it can also demonstrate the reality of what FIFA is promoting. Qatar was chosen to be the host of the 2022 and was immediately questioned for the decision. How could such a small country that had little to no history of playing soccer earn the biggest sporting event in the world?

The reality is that FIFA is one of the most corrupt and greedy organizations in the entire world. As the international community found out in 2015, when the FBI indicted and arrested fifteen FIFA officials and associates for fraud, money laundering, and racketeering. This brought a lot of attention and criticism towards the organization and made many people realize that the organization was not what it may have seemed. The failure of the organization is obvious, but the question is whether their impact on the international community, especially the developing nations created greater prosperity for the country. FIFA spends billions of dollars every year funding the development of sports facilities, providing emergency support after disasters, creating education centers for the players, and even supplying medical equipment and medication for developing nations. This makes it seem like the 5.7 billion dollars of revenue they had last year a reasonable number. What about the people being affected by this investment? When Brazil hosted the World Cup in 2014 it resulted in revenue of $4.4 billion dollars (Willis 2014) while having expenses estimated at $13.3 billion (Zimbalist 2014). This revenue may seem like a lot, but the reality is that the majority of the money went to FIFA instead of Brazil. Furthermore, the job creation was largely temporary. Of the 200,000 jobs created by the World Cup about 66,000 were only temporary (SECOM 2014). In the build up and while the World Cup occurred, millions of Brazilians protested the event. They saw that the government and people were taken advantage by FIFA and the wealthy Brazilians reaping the benefits of the building contracts.

The World Cup resulted in the construction of 12 state of the art stadiums, many of which in remote locations and costed around $4 billion dollars to build (Manfred 2014). This does not even include the facilities erected to house the athletes and millions of visitors to the country. This meant that an estimated 250,000 people were evicted from their homes (Ling 2014). You could argue that the creation of these stadiums resulted in future benefit after the World Cup. This may be true with a few of the stadiums built in larger cities, but in Manaus, where the Arena Amazonia was constructed for $300 million dollars, the stadium has only been used 11 times in the five months following the World Cup (Manfred 2015). The local community doesn’t even have a top-flight soccer team and even during their biggest game of the season they only had an attendance of 3,125 fans (Watts 2015). Manaus isn’t an outlier with a lack of usage. The Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, which costed $550 million dollars (Manfred 2015), was the most expensive stadium built for the World Cup. It now is being used as a parking lot for a local bus company.

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Does this investment by the Brazilian government warrant the hosting of the World Cup? I think not. This doesn’t even include the workers’ rights that were violated and the numerous deaths that occurred in the construction facilities.

Another country that will be hosting the World Cup in the near future is Qatar. As stated before, the fact that they are hosting at all brings up many questions. If you overlook the plausible corruption and bribery used to win the bid, you have to weigh the positive impacts and negative consequences. Consequentialism argues that the “whole point of morality is (a) to spread happiness and relieve suffering, or (b) to create as much freedom as possible in the world, or (c) to promote the survival of our species” (Haines 2014). Using this school of ethics, you can think about the affects that the World Cup may have on Qatari people and the workers’ employed by the government to build the facilities for the World Cup. Even though the public mainly hears about the negative side of the World Cup, what most people don’t know about is the effect on people’s happiness. This is key when considering consequentialism because a person’s happiness can be weighted similarly to economic benefits. When the FIFA congress meets to decide what country to host they have to think about the ramifications of their choice. One positive return from the World Cup is that it has shown to increase happiness. This can be seen in a study done during the World Cup in Germany. The researchers began by explaining a scenario to a sample group of German citizens. The story was that the World Cup has the possibility of having terrorism activity similar to the level of the Munich Olympic games in 1972. The researchers then asked, “would you personally be willing to contribute some of your own money to ensure the finals can be hosted in your home country” (Heyne 2007). Six months after the World Cup had ended the researchers asked the same group if they would change their willingness to pay (WTP). The study found that 85.5% of the German focus group would want to increase their WTP. If you then apply this change to the entire population, using the average increase of six euros, it results in an increase of 495 million euros (Heyne 2007). Unfortunately, this study was not done during the World Cups in Brazil and South Africa. Plain scalar consequentialism, the most stringent consequentialist theory, would state that the decision to host the games in a place like Qatar would only be justifiable if the other options would result in worse overall consequences. If FIFA were thinking about hosting the 2022 World Cup in Syria then scalar consequentialism would agree with FIFA’s decision to give the bid to Qatar. Obviously, the public doesn’t know who else FIFA was considering, which makes the theory not applicable.

The other side of the story is that the workers rights, similar to many of the past host nations, are violated. There have multiple reports from human rights groups asking for change and pressuring FIFA to force Qatar to increase the safety for the workers. Most of the workers are shipped in from Nepal, where getting work is extremely difficult. The unemployment rate in Nepal is about 50% (CIA 2008) forcing people to find work no matter the costs. This has allowed the recruiters for the construction companies in Qatar to prey on the job seeking Nepalese citizens. Once the workers are sent to Qatar, they have their passports taken, are forced too work extraneous hours, sleep in horrible living conditions, are denied pay, and cannot leave the country without the permission of their employer (Amnesty International 2016).

Living Conditions for the Workers in Qatar (www.beautifulgameofsoccer.com)kitchen-nepalese-worker.jpg

 

 

Many workers are forced to work because they hope that the employer will pay them in the future, which could allow their family from their native country to survive. A worker stated that they are forced to work for multiple reasons: “under Qatari law, workers cannot move to other employers; risk of losing their jobs and being sent home” (Amnesty International 2016). The issue is that FIFA is doing nothing to change the practices in Qatar. FIFA’s secretary general stated that they “uphold the respect for human rights and the application of international norms of behavior as a principle and a part of all our activities” (Amnesty International 2016), but in reality they only created a veil of change. Then in 2013, after The Guardian released a report of the horrible working conditions in Qatar, Sepp Blatter, the former president of FIFA, stated “what has happened now, we are not indifferent to that. We can’t turn a blind eye and say this does not concern us” (Amnesty International 2016). Sadly, Sepp Blatter then proceeded to say, “the worker’s rights will be the responsibility for Qatar and the companies…it is not FIFA’s primary responsibility” (Amnesty International 2016). He promised to bring it up the next time he met with the Emir but insinuated that Qatar had plenty of time to change because the World Cup “is in nine years” (Amnesty International 2016). This sentiment was then confirmed after Amnesty International reached out to the Secretary General to explain their findings. The real issue here is that FIFA is attempting to use expectable consequentialism to justify their actions. The theory states that the “morally right action is the action whose reasonably expectable consequences are the best” (Haines 2014). FIFA could use this to excuse themselves from any blame. When they decided to give the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, they may not have expected the construction activity to result in death and illegal working conditions. Even if you were to “donate $100 to Malaria Aid, but it turns out this group aids malaria and [you] have funded an outbreak” (Haines 2014), you could argue that it wasn’t your fault. To the best of your ability, you expected this money to be donated to aid in the fight of Malaria.

The crux of this argument is when you use reasonable consequentialism or rule consequentialism. Reasonable consequentialism determines if a decision is morally right, solely based off reasonably expected consequences. If FIFA had performed their research, which is an essential part of choosing who to host the World Cup, then they would have found that Qatar has a history of taking advantage of foreign worker. With about 90% of their work force being shipped into the country, this leads to discrimination towards the workers. Furthermore, the workers never have a chance of becoming a citizen because even if you are born in the country, your father has to have been a citizen when you were born. Using rule consequentialism, the morally correct decision can become muddled because it depends on the set of rules decided upon. The theory states that “an action is morally right is and only if it does not violate the set of rules of behavior who general acceptance in the community would have the best consequences” (Haines 2014). The issue with this theory is that if you look at slave labor from the perspective of Qatari citizens then it would probably think that cheap labor is a good thing because it boosts their economy, while having a positive economic impact on the country. Obviously, if you look at it from the workers perspective, the view isn’t as cheerful. But if you look at the decision from the perspective of the international community and the standards set by the United Nations, then it is clear that forced labor is morally wrong. The UN has even given Qatar a deadline of the year-end to change the working conditions or the international community will place sanctions on the country (Booth 2016). With the international community making a stand, hopefully Qatar will get the message and make a change.

The central issue with the development and investment practices of FIFA is that they wish to distance themselves from the nations they entrust. Whether it’s trying to cover up the thousands of Brazilians displaced by the building of the stadiums or the forced labor in Qatar, FIFA is always there to say that it is not their problem. The issue is that it is their problem. They are the ones who chose these countries to host the World Cup, which means that their decision has to be based on merit and reasoning. Obviously, FIFA doesn’t know anything about merit because the majority of their organization is run on money laundering and bribery. Even now, after Sepp Blatter stepped down and FIFA created an ethics committee to attempt to deal with corruption within the organization, information comes out that the a member of the committee, Juan Pedro Damiani’s law firm is connected to a group that is being investigated by the FBI. His firm helped set up seven shell companies that allowed TV rights broker to make millions of dollars through bribing FIFA officials on the rights for the Copa America and the World Cup Qualifiers (Kistner 2016). Until the culture of FIFA changes, which most people don’t see happening, or an international organization forces them to change, FIFA will continue to fail the citizens and workers in host nations.

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Works Cited

Booth, Robert. “UN Gives Qatar a Year to End Forced Labour of Migrant Workers.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 24 Mar. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Erb, Kelly Phillips. “World Cup Mania: Figuring Out FIFA, Soccer & Tax.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 16 June 2014. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

“FIFA Developing – FIFA.com.” FIFA.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Haines, William. Consequentialism (2014): n. pag. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Heyne, Malte, Wolfgand Maennig, and Bernd Sussmuth. “Mega-sporting Events as Experience Goods.” International Association of Sports Economists (2007): n. pag. Apr. 2007. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Hosea, Leana. “Inside Qatar’s Squalid Labour Camps.” BBC News. N.p., 7 Mar. 2014. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

International, Amnesty. “The Dark Side of Migration.” Amnesty International. Amnesty Interantional Ltd, 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Kistner, Thomas, Frederik Obermaier, Bastian Obermayer, and Mauritius Much. “Panama Papers – N.p., Apr. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Ling, Anthony. “Brazil Is Using The World Cup To Destroy Communities.” The Daily Caller. N.p., 6 Oct. 2014. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Liu, Yundong. “Assessing the Long-term Economic Impacts of the World Cup as Mega-sport Event.” The People, Ideas, and Things (PIT) Journal. N.p., Apr. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Manfred, Tony. “Brazil’s $3 Billion World Cup Stadiums Are Becoming White Elephants a Year Later.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 13 May 2015. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Manfred, Tony. “FIFA Made an Insane Amount of Money off of Brazil’s $15 Billion World Cup.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 20 Mar. 2015. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Matsuoka De Aragoa, Mirele. “Economic Impacts of the FIFA World Cup in Developing Countries.” Western Michigan University ScholarWorks at WMU. N.p., 17 Apr. 2015. Web.

Somin, IIya. “Brazil Forcibly Displaced Thousands of People to Make Way for the World Cup.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 18 June 2014. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

“Statement from the Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee.” FIFA.com. N.p., 05 Sept. 2014. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Watts, Jonathan. “Brazil Prepares for World Cup as Criticism Mounts over Cost.” The Guardian. N.p., 9 June 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

“What You Need to Know about the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.” (n.d.): n. pag. Copa2014.gov. Secretariat for Social Communication, Summer 2014. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

“What You Need to Know about the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.” (n.d.): n. pag. Copa2014.gov. Secretariat for Social Communication, Summer 2014. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

“The World Factbook: Nepal.” Central Intelligence Agency. Central Intelligence Agency, 29 Feb. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Zimbalist, Andrew. “Brazil’s Long To-Do List.” Brazil World Cup Olympics Finances. N.p., Summer 2011. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Image Sources:

Building Infrastructure in Qatar Sucks

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