Tonight, the Dutch national football team will play their first game at the World Cup in Qatar. The tournament has been mired in controversy. Should we even be watching it?
‘There have been plenty of reasons to get over your football fandom throughout the last few weeks’, says Sebastian Wittag. Unlike previous years, the student of communication & information studies will not be supporting his country at the World Cup this year. ‘It is hard to completely avoid it in pubs and the news, but I will not watch it on my own.’
The organisation of the World Cup in Qatar has been widely covered in the news for its many violations of human rights, deaths during the construction of the stadium, and corruption. Apart from that, women still have significantly fewer rights than men in Qatar and homosexuality is illegal.
‘It would be nice to get together with friends to watch such a big sporting event’, says Sebastian. But the 27-year-old German and his friends agree that they cannot bear that this year. ‘Everyone in my surroundings is against it.’
Sebastian is not the only one who has been worried about the World Cup being held in Qatar. Rowing association Gyas found itself in a dilemma whether to broadcast the upcoming football games for their members, or not. In the end, they decided that it was up to their members to decide.
A poll was made and the majority of Gyas members didn’t object to the broadcasting of the World Cup. Still, the World Cup won’t be celebrated as it usually is. ‘We will only broadcast the World Cup and there won’t be any extra festivals or things like that. Normally, activities like this can turn into a party, but that won’t be the case this year’ explains Gyas. In addition, the rowing association will donate money to a charity which supports the relatives of deceased migrant workers.
Up to the members
Like in previous years, football association The Knickerbockers will broadcast the games for their members. They want to provide them with the opportunity to watch together with their friends. ‘It is then up to members to decide whether or not they want to.’
Futsal association drs. Vijfje agrees. ‘The tournament will take place regardless of what we do.’ They do however think it is important to make a statement against the corruption and human rights violations of the organisation. ‘That is something we absolutely do not support.’
With only a few hours until the start whistle of the first Dutch game, student Joris Bouman is having mixed feelings about the World Cup this year. While pure excitement normally fills the 22-year-old student, this year his feelings are double sided. Firstly, because of the awful events in Qatar and secondly because it’s held in winter, instead of summer. ‘It’s just not like it used to be’, Joris admits.
Despite the controversies, the international business and Dutch law student will still be following the World Cup this year. After many discussions with friends and family, Joris believes that boycotting the World Cup won’t have any effect. Moreover, he thinks that those who do, are hypocrites: ‘If you boycott the World Cup in Qatar you should boycott all things which are morally wrong.’
Despite the discussions among his friends, Joris never doubted watching this year, but he does hope that future world cups will never be like this one.
By Isabelle Geoffroy and Tim van de Vendel