Where is Qatar and why is their World Cup so controversial? What we know about host nation Qatar

The World Cup is underway in Qatar and 1.5 million fans are expected to visit for the finals, but the tournament has been one of the most contentious to date due to many controversies.

Formally known as the State of Qatar, the nation has been dominating headlines following huge controversy surrounding them as the host nation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with many celebrities also criticising the event. Reports of slavery, maltreatment of women and the illegality of homosexuality have seen global protesters cry out against Qatar for its ‘outdated’ practices.

When FIFA announced Qatar as a host back in 2010, some thought that it being the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup while also being the smallest nation by land size ever to do so was a symbolic victory, others have called FIFA ‘corrupt’ for enabling a ‘non-inclusive’ World Cup that violates their purported liberal values.

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However, many find themselves simply wanting to know Qatar itself better - so here’s what you should know about its location, population, and how it became so controversial.

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Where is Qatar?

Qatar is a country located in the Middle East within the continent of Asia - it lies on the Northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. The nation shares a border with Saudi Arabia as well as maritime borders with the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Bahrain.

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How big is Qatar?

According to World Data, Qatar is a country on a peninsula in the Persian Gulf that has a total land area of 11,610 square kilometres. This makes Qatar about 21 times smaller than the United Kingdom that has a total land area of 243,610 square kilometres.

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The World Cup in Qatar has been one of the most controversial amidst allegations of bribery and corruption in FIFA's executive committee.

The population of Qatar is 2.931 million people but of this number the 2017 data reveals that the native Qatari population only constitute 313,000 people while the rest are expatriates - while Arabic is the native tongue it is known that English is common there due to the number of expats.

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What is the time difference in Qatar?

If you are living in the UK then the time difference is that Qatar is 3 hours ahead of us. If you’re living elsewhere, you can use the Time and Date website to calculate the time difference between your country and the 2022 World Cup host nation.

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Why is the World Cup in Qatar so controversial?

The capital city of Qatar is Doha which is home to over 80% of the country's population.
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Reports of extorting migrant workers have plunged Qatar deep into controversy in recent years with the Human Rights Watch condemning the Gulf state. The Guardian reports that over 6,500 migrant workers from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar since it was announced as the host nation and their families are now demanding compensation.

Homosexuality is punishable by up to three years in prison and same-sex marriage is not governmentally recognised. Women’s rights are also far poorer than most world regions as all females under the age of 25 need permission from men to pursue a life outside of Qatar, reports of sexual violence are also prominent in the country and are often attributed to precedents set by Qatari law.

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In recent cases, some have been accused of cheating on their husbands - a crime that entails prison time - and if the party is Muslim then they risk the punishment of flogging (like violent whipping), a practice banned under international human rights law. Due to these human rights violations and other concerning reports, FIFA has faced backlash over the last 12 years over their decision to elect Qatar as the host for the 2022 World Cup.

In fact, of the twenty-two FIFA executive committee members who participated in the selection process, 15 have since faced bans or criminal charges including Sepp Blatter (the former FIFA President) who publicly admitted later that it was the wrong choice, according to Talk Sport.

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Nassel Al Khater, the Qatar World Cup chief, spoke of footballers wanting to wear pro LGBTQ+ imagery on their uniforms and said: “This is a sporting tournament that people want to come (to) and enjoy. Turning it into a platform of political statements I don’t think is right for the sport.”

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