The World of Sports: The Climate World Cup

The 27th session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) began earlier this month in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, with a focus on helping developing countries build infrastructure climate friendly. Across the Arabian Peninsula, the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off early Sunday morning in Qatar with 32 nations battling it out in the most popular sport on the world’s biggest stage.

Sadly, voices in both countries are being silenced as a result of these global gatherings.

Only 32 teams can qualify for football’s biggest national competition, which takes place only once every four years, but all United Nations member states can take part in the two-week conference with the aim of help “the countries that have contributed least to the problem”. [but] suffer the most,” according to Melbourne Climate Futures director Jacqueline Peel.

The problem is that some of these same countries, as well as non-governmental organizations whose advocacy has been vital in raising global awareness of environmental issues affecting developing countries, will not be present. Not because they don’t want to, but because they can’t afford housing.

A few weeks before the conference, some potential attendees saw their hotel reservations increase to prices up to 400% higher than the initial cost. NGOs and least-developed country groups will be squeezed out of this conference, which was partly about getting climate aid to the countries that need it most, with some countries in Africa experiencing their worst food crises in the past 40 years.

Additionally, organizers who can afford to travel to Sharm el-Sheikh may find it difficult to protest the issues the conference is expected to address. A nearly decade-old campaign against Egypt’s dependence on coal has been crushed by a government led by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that has persecuted critics, journalists and human rights activists.

Egypt, meanwhile, accounts for about a third of Africa’s methane emissions and is doing little to shift away from its reliance on fossil fuels.

While the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change gives Egypt a chance to ‘whitewash’ itself in the public eye, the FIFA World Cup is an attempt by Qatar to ‘whitewash’ its own questionable record in matters of human rights.

Qatar, which is accused by the US Department of Justice of bribing FIFA officials for the chance to host the World Cup, has built eight beautiful high-tech stadiums that will comfortably accommodate thousands of fans with air conditioning to keep out the desert heat. Behind the alluring stadiums that any sports fan would be lucky enough to enter are thousands of trafficked migrant workers who build the stadiums in horrific and dangerous conditions.

Between 14-hour workdays without proper rest time or acceptable food provisions, many workers are being exploited – with some noting that up to two-thirds of their wages had simply disappeared. Since many of the workers hail from different countries and worked for companies owned by Qatar’s ruling family, they were afraid to speak out against their harsh working conditions.

“We have been covered up by this big company owned by the royal family, although FIFA has these standards,” Anish Adhikari, a migrant worker from Nepal, said in an interview with Rolling Stone. “I felt very intimidated at all times – and if I acted I would be sent home. I was so scared.”

Most of Qatar’s economy comes from the oil-rich lands on which the country sits. Earlier this year, President Joe Biden declared Qatar a major non-NATO ally, aligning himself with the Biden administration’s efforts to ensure European nations have access to oil at the height of the crisis. war in Ukraine.

In recent years, Qatar has made more efforts to establish itself as a tourist destination, including hosting high-level sporting events. Due to human rights abuses in Qatar, tourists should be wary of where their money goes, as it is definitely not going into the pockets of the workers behind the epic stadiums and arenas.

As COP27 draws to a close and the FIFA World Cup begins, it’s easy to get lost in the austere present when countries around the world come together to plan against what should be a common and unifying enemy in climate change or to celebrate a loved one around the world. sport. But in both countries, with both events, it’s important to consider those whose voices go unheard – and who is silencing them.

Patrick Warren is the sports editor and a senior writer on the relationship between sport and climate change. His column “Le Monde du Sport” is broadcast every other Wednesday.

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