Now that the successful 2014 World Cup event in Brazil has ended, the world's attention is focused on the tiny nation of Qatar. A nation who miraculously won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup games, despite its excruciating hot temperatures and strict anti-western laws.
In many respects, the nation of Qatar seems like a first-world country. High rise buildings, a thriving city and luxurious hotels, stores and amenities. But for foreign visitors living in Qatar, it is an archaic nation, ruled by Islamic law and still ruled by the nation's very influential royal family.
Such is the influence of the royal family in Qatar, that a decision to grant a lifetime prison sentence to an American citizen without a proper and legit trial, went unnoticed and unchallenged by the U.S. Government.
John Downs, a U.S. geologists was sentenced to a lifetime sentence in Qatar for attempting to sell trade secrets. A crime he admitted to but would not have earned him a lifetime prison sentence had it not been because he angered the royal family's uncle. You can find John Downs online diary, managed by family and friends on Twitter @FreeJohnDowns and on his website. #FreeJohnDowns
Family and friends allege that the sentence given went down without a just trial. They have pleaded to the U.S. government for help but to no avail. The former U.S. Ambassador to Qatar at the time of John Downs' sentencing, Charles Graves "Chase" Untermeyer , is now one of Qatar's most influential lobbyist as Managing Partner for Qatus Advisors. His new job is to convince U.S. lawmakers to do Qatar's bidding while earning millions for himself in the process. The royal family of Qatar spares no expense when it comes to "winning".
Which brings us to the 2022 World Cup.
Many have been calling for the boycott of the 2022 World Cup games to be held in Qatar. The reasons are many but allegations of bribery is at the center of this scandal. According to documents released by London's The Sunday Times, they write:
"Fresh disclosures from the FIFA files show how Mohamed bin Hammam, the disgraced FIFA vice-president, pulled strings at the top of government and with the country’s royal family to arrange meetings and favours for key voters in the months leading up to the World Cup ballot."
"Five of the six leading sponsors of the World Cup (Adidas, Coca-Cola, Hyundai, Sony and Visa) have publicly demanded that FIFA expose and remedy any corruption. Only Emirates Airlines (based in nearby Dubai) has not joined the call to investigate how Qatar ended up winning the 2022 World Cup."
Tourists visiting Qatar and the region may want to be careful too. Drinking and being intoxicated in public can land you in jail for many years. And if a woman is raped, regardless if she is a tourist or national, their law states that it will always be the woman's fault unless three male witnesses testify in her favor. A woman's word is never considered valid, according to their laws.
Just last year, a woman who was raped in Dubai, the most populous city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was sentenced to 16 months in prison for what they called "having had sex outside of marriage." Had it not been for the public outcry of injustice, spearheaded through social media, she would have spent 16-months of her life in a prison cell in Dubai for being raped.
Qatar's laws are much more stricter than Dubai's. According to Online Qatar,
"Qatar society, it is said, is not as liberal as the UAE or Bahrain, but is definitely more liberal than Saudi Arabia. Qatar applies Shari’a Law to all aspects of family law, inheritance and certain criminal acts. Being a traditional Muslim community, people will settle disputes based on Sharia court or Islamic court, applicable to Sharia Law or Muslim Law."
Another reason for the boycott of the 2022 World Cup games in Qatar is the treatment of many Asian immigrants working in that country. Many are working without proper pay and some without pay. Immigrants are being treated like slaves, working in horrible conditions.
An article from Yahoo! Sports states:
"FIFA is under pressure to move the World Cup from Qatar due to the sweltering summer heat, allegations of bribery and suspicions that slaves from Nepal are being used to construct stadiums. Then there’s the fact that at least 44 workers have died during the construction process."
Advertisements of job offers have lured many immigrants to seemingly rich-laden Qatar with the promise of very good pay. However, once contracted, it is an entirely different story. Many of these projects are for the 2022 World Cup games that Qatar mysteriously won back in 2010.
If Qatar is stripped as the hosting nation of the 2022 World Cup Games, the honor would most likely be given to the runner up, which is the United States.
After an internal investigation is completed next month, FIFA is expected to decide if Qatar is to keep its 2022 World Cup ambitions.