Anger rises. The wind of boycott is blowing against the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, in the face of what many describe as ecological, social and economic “nonsense”. In recent weeks, several major French cities have announced that they will not broadcast matches on a giant screen.
However, in this debate, other voices are heard. With sporting arguments, first. “Sportingly, for the supporters that we are, it is likely that this World Cup will be interesting”, immediately assures Vincent Chaudel, sports economist. Unfavorable to the boycott, the latter recalls that this event, due to the reversal of the classic calendar of football seasons, “will coincide with a period when players of great talent will not be completely cooked ».
The object of the discord, however, rests on other plans, far removed from the reality on the ground, in particular the climate issue. “We can criticize the air-conditioned stadiums or the number of chartered planes in an overall approach to energy consumption, but we have to be honest: in the Nordic countries, they heat the pitches and the boxes in winter. » For the economist, this reasoning endorses a divide between Western countries and the rest of the world. “We say to India, China and many other countries: stop polluting, knowing that we ourselves have done it before. » And worry: “We decide that hot countries do not have the right to play football. It is a directed approach. »
Slow social progress
The debate also takes place on the social level, with the highlighting of the number of industrial accidents, leading to the death of hundreds of foreign workers during the years of construction. If timid social progress has been seen in Qatar in recent years, as recognized by Amnesty International, it is the tree that hides the forest.
“Certainly there are advances, in particular on the hourly volume of the workers. There is also the abolition of the kafala (this procedure for placing employees under guardianship, where everyone had to hand over their passport to their employer, Ed). Nevertheless, if there was a legislative evolution, our teams realized that, on the ground, that did not always follow “, judge Jean-Claude Samouiller, president of Amnesty International France, an NGO opposed to the boycott but attentive. According to the figures mentioned by Vincent Chaudel, the minimum wage in Qatar has been multiplied by four since the award. Housing compensation has been doubled. “It’s not enough, but it’s moving. It must also be said”he insists.
Beyond the case of Qatar, a more global reflection on the allocation of major competitions must be initiated. We evoke for this 22e World Cup suspicions of corruption, as was the case in 1978 in Argentina, in 2018 in Russia or even in 1998… in France. Of the 21 football world championships that have taken place, 11 have been organized in Europe, 8 in the Americas, 1 in Africa and 1 in Asia. This is the first time that a world is held in the Arab world. “I am not for excusing and saying that everything is fine, but we do not realize the consequences that it can have to upset part of the world”believes Vincent Chaudel.
Sport, victim of its own success
The question then turns to the supporters, caught between ecological and social awareness and love of the round ball. Hervé Mougin, president of the French Irresistibles, association of supporters, immediately states: “I will be there! » Then to qualify: “There was a debate within the association. Some didn’t want to go, others don’t even want to watch the games. »
Sport is actually a victim of its own success. Major events require imposing infrastructure, unprecedented logistical capacity, as evidenced by the recent controversy over the daily provision of 160 planes to Qatar to transport supporters, or oversized security measures.
“Things have already started to change. When Jacques Chirac was mayor of Paris, he wanted Paris to host the Games, and so Paris was a candidate. Now, we can no longer apply without the support of the population., recalls Vincent Chaudel. An evolution of the specifications which progresses from event to event. “We are changing the requirements”insists the economist.
Abundant in the sense of the supporters, Jean-Claude Samouiller wants to make sure that the “timid advances” do not shatter once the cameras around the world are turned off. Hervé Mougin is not fooled either: “Four years ago in Russia, the police we had to deal with were not the Russian police that I have known in other activities. » Present in Qatar, he will make sure to distinguish between appearance and reality.