World Cup In 40 Days: International Update

Major changes occur outside the soccer pitch in Qatar, as human rights groups, new policies, and conscripts headline the action with only 40 days to go…

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Vince Kim

The countdown to the 2022 Qatar World Cup in November is now under 40 days left! Recently, Qatar was met with some drama outside the stadiums that made headlines throughout September. 

A women’s rights group Open Stadiums has demanded FIFA to remove Iran from the Qatar tournament because of the country’s mistreatment of women. The death of 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini triggered massive protests across Iran that called for women’s rights after it was revealed she had died while in the custody of the morality police for wearing a hijab loosely. FIFA president Gianni Infantino received a letter from Open Stadiums, the statement reading, “Why would FIFA give the Iranian state and its representatives a global stage while it not only refuses to respect basic human rights and dignities, but is currently torturing and killing its own people?… The Iranian FA is… a direct threat to the security of female fans in Iran… Football should be a safe space for us all.” The letter brought new light to the issues of human rights and non-discrimination based on gender, race, and religion, asking that those who do not comply with such standards should be punished by suspension or expulsion. FIFA has yet to make a decision about kicking Iran out of the tournament.

With only a month to go, Qatar has enlisted a mandatory military service to fill security checkpoints at WC stadiums with more guards, gathering hundreds of civilians and overseas diplomats to conscription. Trained to manage frisk fans and security queues, while detecting alcohol, drugs, and weapons under disguises, most of these conscripts have been enlisted simply because they need to fulfill their duty to avoid trouble with the Qatari government. In correspondence to the women’s rights protests in Iran, many have called out Qatar for its lack of human rights and mistreatment of migrant workers who were mostly forced into labor. Because Qatar is currently under the power of an autocracy, more political power was exercised to gather conscripts as security guards for the tournament, bringing the issue of human rights back into the spotlight.

Qatar also enforced a new policy that requires fans attending the WC tournament to show a negative COVID-19 test result, regardless of vaccination status. In addition to fans having to wear masks on public transportation, they now need to receive a negative result from official medical centers in Qatar because the tests cannot be self-administered. And with the influx of 1.2 million visitors coming to watch the world’s greatest stage, Qatar is only making it harder for fans to enjoy the lovely sport in a once in a lifetime event. 

Players from different leagues took a short break for several international friendlies in mid-September. While there were multiple key performances from certain teams that shaped their WC outlook, we’ll take a look at the USMNT’s 2-0 loss against Japan. There were several things to take away from this game. For starters, it’s worth noting that the USMNT did not have a healthy squad, with almost half of their starting XI benched due to injuries. Key starters like Antonee Robinson, Yunus Musah, and Timothy Weah were sidelined, resulting in a poor performance overall. Additionally, attacking in the final third for the USMNT was lackluster, as the attackers failed to convert several opportunities into goals. However, USMNT Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner was able to pull off crucial saves that kept the team’s hopes alive throughout the match, proving his capabilities to start in the tournament in the following month. 

Currently, making out of Group B doesn’t look very easy for the USMNT — Wales has been on par with European powerhouses, Iran beat South American powerhouse Uruguay 1-0, and England, the home of soccer, is still the favorite to finish first in the group. By pushing for a draw against Saudi Arabia, the USMNT is looking to steer towards a better direction as the clock ticks…