All visitors to Qatar must download the Hayya to Qatar 2022 app before they can enter, but this software gives authorities extensive access to their data and allows them to spy on users. It can listen to calls, send messages without the user’s knowledge and turn phones back on.
FIFA has been accused of ignoring the case of a former Qatar World Cup media officer Abdullah Ibhais who raised concerns over human rights abuses and was later jailed. Amnesty International described the proceedings as an ‘unfair trial’ and has called for his ‘immediate release.’
The FA united with nine other European countries to create the OneLove campaign. It aimed to promote inclusion and oppose discrimination during the World Cup. Captains were to wear an armband featuring a coloured heart (but, significantly, not the Pride rainbow). FIFA, however, did not approve this as it was supposedly political and, therefore, in breach of FIFA rules. The FA said that they would pay any fines on behalf of players who wore the armband, but instead FIFA threatened players who wore it with a yellow card and unlimited sanctions. The English team backed down; the German team posed for their official team photograph with their hands over their mouths; and their interior minister wore the armband while sitting next to the President of FIFA, as did the UK’s Sports Minister (who is gay). Germany and Denmark are also considering taking legal action against FIFA. Some LGBT+ fans said that the OneLove armband was ‘a bit of an empty gesture’ anyway, but others said they felt let down and described the actions by the English team as ‘cowardly’. It does seem paradoxical to be punished for supporting equal rights.
Iran’s World Cup defeat to the United States was met by cheers and celebrations in Tehran and other Iranian cities, as protesters hailed the country’s exit from the tournament as a blow to the ruling regime. But fears are growing of punishment for the members of the World Cup squad and their families.