By Ken Reed
The Qatar World Cup has been tainted from the beginning. There have been widespread allegations of corruption and bribery involving Qatar officials and FIFA executives. The U.S. Justice Department concluded that Qatar was chosen as the host of the World Cup in part due to bribery.
To start with, it’s hard to believe FIFA actually awarded soccer’s World Cup to a country in which homosexuality is illegal. In Qatar, visitors can be arrested for being LGBTQ, and Muslims can be executed for it.
Moreover, in addition to the corruption involved in how Qatar was awarded the World Cup, and the country’s abuse of LGBTQ people, there’s also Qatar’s abuse of the migrant workers who built the soccer stadiums for the World Cup.
Human rights organizations say thousands of migrant workers died to make the games possible.
The construction of the stadiums and infrastructure in Qatar was largely done through a system called “kafala,” an exploitative system of bonded labor which binds workers to their sponsor (in most cases, the employer). Despite reforms to the kafala system (in theory anyway), the reality in Qatar was migrant workers on World Cup projects had their passports confiscated, according to Natasha Iskander, a migration scholar and professor at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service. Additionally, they weren’t allowed to change or quit jobs without permission, or withhold labor for any reason, including non-payment of wages or dangerous working conditions.
During the past two years, migrant workers at each of the eight World Cup stadiums have suffered multiple abuses, including wage theft, physical assault and inadequate nutrition at the hands of major construction firms, according to reports by Equidem, an international charity and research group. At some labor camps, workers slept seven to a room. Additionally, in some camps air conditioning didn’t work during periods of oppressive heat, water was limited, and bathing required waits in long lines.
“The work was very difficult,” said Anish Adhikari, a 27-year-old migrant worker from Nepal through a translator. “We would not have even a minute to take a rest. Even we would not have sufficient time to go to the bathrooms.”
Qatar and FIFA officials want people to stop talking about social issues and human rights topics and just enjoy the soccer. That’s hard to do when one’s aware of the corruption and human rights abuses associated with this World Cup.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman, and has a long involvement with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport (now called the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition). We discuss the state of college athletics today, given the pressures of NIL, the transfer portal, sports gambling and huge media contracts. McMillen then provides great perspective on the poor state of physical fitness our young people are experiencing today.
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Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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