Aside from predictions and guesses around the potential winners, the chatter surrounding the upcoming World Cup in Qatar has been fairly mixed. Even the host nation’s announcement was met with plenty of uncertainty from fans, and those sentiments have only multiplied since.
The various bans, such as restrictions on alcohol in the stadiums and the extremely bizarre prohibition of ‘One Night Stands’, have rubbed fans the wrong way. And then, of course, is the giant elephant in the room, the widely reported human rights abuse labourers have suffered in the Gulf nation.
Preparations for the football festival have taken a heavy toll on the workers, and humanitarian groups such as Amnesty International have deemed a figure of $440m to be fair compensation. Labor exploitation has become an ever-present topic whenever the upcoming event is brought up, and even players have spoken up against it.
The latest such star to chime in with their opinion is former Bayern Munich fullback, Philipp Lahm.
In a recent interview with Kicker, the Bavarian legend offered his two cents, “human rights should play the biggest role in the awarding of a tournament. If a country is awarded the contract that is one of the worst performers in this regard, you start to think about the criteria used to make the decision.”
He further announced his decision to follow Die Mannschaft from home, instead of travelling with the German delegation.
Fans online were divided in their reception of his comments, while some appreciated Lahm for abiding by his own words and snubbing the event, others found him to be hypocritical, as such issues are also prevalent in western nations.
Numerous debates were quickly underway, during which, Lahm received a stern response from Qatar-based journalist Mohammed Alkaabi.
Alkaabi, who frequently collaborates with Spanish publications, issued a rather hostile response to Lahm, as he tweeted out, “Who told you to come?”
Despite being short on words, the message clearly paints the picture that Lahm’s presence is now unwelcome at the event. And should the German change his mind, it’s very likely that he’ll receive a cold reception.
It’s unusual to see online standoffs such as these, especially when placed into the context of the World Cup, an event which is viewed as a collective celebration.
Suffice to say, the Qatar World Cup certainly doesn’t appear to be shooting for ‘normal’, and it remains to be seen whether the event will be remembered as fondly as its predecessors.