As the U.S. national team prepares to take on Germany Thursday to qualify for the knockout stage of the World Cup, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., wants soccer's governing body to take the 2022 tournament away from Qatar.
“I’m urging FIFA to remove the cloud that hangs over the 2022 World Cup and swiftly reallocate this event,” Casey said in a Monday letter to FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, adding that the United States conveniently stands ready to host.
Casey, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, cited labor practices and allegations of corruption and bribery as reasons to strip the tournament from the Gulf state monarchy. “Rewarding these labor practices with the 2022 World Cup is the wrong approach,” Casey said. “Recent reporting has raised new concerns about the way Qatar treats its workers and the manner in which the country was selected for the 2022 World Cup.”
Casey said the United States — whose 2022 World Cup bid was the runner-up to the Qatari bid and was led by former President Bill Clinton, is ready to host the tournament should FIFA reconsider its decision. The United States hosted the tournament in 1994.
“The U.S. submitted a quality bid to FIFA that should once again be given serious consideration,” Casey said. “Bringing the 2022 World Cup to the U.S. will also have a significant jobs impact that strengthens our economy.”
Clinton reportedly shattered a mirror after hearing Qatar had won tournament-hosting-duties in December 2010.
Casey said that if the U.S. cannot be automatically awarded the tournament, then the FIFA executive committee should call a re-vote on the allocation of the 2022 World Cup.
Qatar has been criticized by the State Department as a modern slave state . Under its labor practices, immigrant workers are almost universally forced to surrender their passports, allowing employers to forbid workers to leave their jobs or travel outside of the country. Employers often do not complete legal procedures to secure work permits, leaving workers at risk of arrest and deportation at any time.
Workers also face dangerous working conditions. According to one report about 4,000 workers are expected to die building World Cup related infrastructure.
In an op-ed in the Guardian on June 20 , Hamad bin Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, a member of the royal family and president of the Qatar Football Association, argued that Qatar won the 2022 World Cup “because our bid was seen as the best” and dismissed a reported bribery scandal as "wild accusations," even as he avoided the topic of working conditions.
In addition to building on the sport’s global popularity by taking the tournament to the Middle East, Qatar is not without its experience in hosting sporting events, including the 2006 Asian Games.