Fans are becoming increasingly critical of the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and rightly so.
Qatar is one in a long line of countries that has jumped on the international sporting event bandwagon (think of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 Olympic Games in China, climate conferences, world exhibitions and the like) to raise their international profile.
In doing so they seek to distract from their exploitative, violent and unsustainable practices.
The ruse works well because so many people, even from the affluent West, want to be part of these supposedly major events.
The pledges and lofty speeches sound nice. And many people in the West get to cash in on the spectacle. It’s what political scientists call whitewashing.
But the problem has less to do with Qatar and more to do with international professional sport.
Qatar has long exploited workers and will continue to do so, just like many other countries, including those in the western world.
Most of the time such practices do not take place within national borders, but in production facilities located elsewhere.
Yet the initiative United Against Modern Slavery has uncovered nail studios that are bringing their staff to Europe and the USA on gagging contracts.