The FIFA World Cup 2022 is set to begin on Sunday, 20 November. Arguably the most prestigious football tournament on the globe, fans will witness 32 national teams from all corners of the Earth convene in the State of Qatar. This should be a great sporting event. But what about LGBT rights? And surely, fans will be permitted to consume alcohol in the stands? Why are people talking of boycotting the tournament altogether? These are some of the seemingly contentious topics that we will briefly explore in this NewsViews article. 
First, it is vital to make note of Qatar’s Muslim identity. A relatively small country with a population of around 3 million, this figure fluctuates depending on the time of year and the associated movement of migrant labour, predominantly from South Asia. The country is home to over 65 per cent Muslims, with the state religion being Islam. Despite this, with the 2022 World Cup being the first in history to have been awarded to a Muslim country – with past hosts including Japan, Spain, England, South Korea, the US, South Africa, and many others – a lot of fans and political commentators feel that Qatar needs to accommodate to the culture of its guests. 
The #hypocrisy regarding #Qatar2022 is truly staggering.— Anas Altikriti أنس التكريتي (@anasaltikriti) November 15, 2022
We don’t bat an eyelid when trading with Qatar (and other identical regimes), holidaying in Qatar or welcoming their billions in investments.
But days before the #WorldCup2022 , we’re all worried about human rights.
Changing the religion for 28 days
Is such a request reasonable? Put simply, no. In 2010, the country was awarded hosting privileges (despite a lot of controversy surrounding the way it was chosen) and in the decade+ since then, it has spent hundreds of billions of pounds in stadiums, cooling systems, and transport infrastructure including rail and road developments. But why should the host country have to accommodate to fans to such an extent when immigrants are often criticised in Britain and elsewhere for not assimilating with the existing so-called Western culture? When it comes to Muslim countries including Qatar, many Western states take issue with gay rights and other so-called issues of liberty and freedom, but reject the notion that there may be other viewpoints on a given topic. If freedom of speech is so celebrated, should it not be right that anti-LGBT and anti-alcohol views are allowed to be discussed?
Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah al-Ansari, the Chairman of the Safety and Security Operations Committee for the upcoming tournament, put the issues of LGBT flag-raising in the following words when speaking with The Associated Press in April,
“If he [a fan] raised the rainbow flag and I took it from him, it’s not because I really want to, really, take it, to really insult him, but to protect him. Because if it’s not me, somebody else around him might attack [him] … I cannot guarantee the behaviour of the whole people. And I will tell him: ‘Please, no need to really raise that flag at this point.’ You want to demonstrate your view about the [LGBT] situation, demonstrate it in a society where it will be accepted.
“We realise that this man got the ticket, comes here to watch the game, not to demonstrate, a political [act] or something which is in his mind. Watch the game. That’s good. But don’t really come in and insult the whole society because of this.” 
al-Ansari further added that there are obvious distinctions to be made between what people do in public and in private:
“Reserve the room together, sleep together – this is something that’s not in our concern. We are here to manage the tournament. Let’s not go beyond, the individual personal things which might be happening between these people … this is actually the concept. Here we cannot change the laws. You cannot change the religion for 28 days of World Cup.” 
On Thursday, there were welcome reports that beer would now be banned in and around all eight of Qatar’s World Cup stadiums, following past reporting that it would only be available for purchase inside designated areas within the venues. Today’s confirmed reports mean that Budweiser is facing a major contractual falling-out with FIFA, owing to its position as one of the sporting body’s biggest sponsors. In a now deleted tweet, Budweiser had quipped, “Well, this is awkward.”  However, in a Muslim-majority country, it should not come as a shock that officials desired to limit the presence of alcohol.
Clearing the air
Qatar has been heavily criticised for its past mistakes when it comes to its treatment of migrant workers, a lack of health and safety, and claims that it rigged the selection process during the bid for the World Cup. Some of these claims are with substance and have been proven correct.
However, there are other tidbits that have not made the mainstream press. For example, the organising body has been displaying sayings of the Prophet (ﷺ) in various locations, in what is seen as a simple yet effective form of education about Islam. Some of the aḥādīth include quotes on giving charity, while others mention refraining from upsetting one’s neighbours and speaking in a good manner. 
This is the side of the country that Western media outlets are neglecting to highlight. It is worth trying to have a balanced outlook on Qatar’s position as host of the World Cup, because for many who are offering criticism, they certainly have their own societal issues to contend with. And as the saying goes, those in glass houses should not throw stones.