Western hypocrisy and double standards were called out countlessly by top officials, sports figures and social media users.
The World Cup 2022 host nation, Qatar, received a perfect score from Swedish athlete Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who asserted that the country’s excellence in organising the international football tournament.
When asked about his thoughts on the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the Gulf host nation in a press conference for his country’s national team regarding the 2024 European Nations Cup qualifiers, Ibrahimovic responded: “It was fantastic. The family and I were there for two days. The organisation: 10 out of 10. Experience: 10 out of 10. The match: 10 out of 10. The crowd: 10 out of 10. The food 10 out of 10. The journey 10 out of 10. The World Cup 10 out of 10. Everything was 10 out of 10.”
“Did you want to hear something else?” he quizzed the journalist, who responded with “No I’m curious to know what you think about the country given criticism of human rights violations.”
Ibrahimovic further emphasised his stance, by responding with a simple “10 out of 10.”
The 41-year-old AC Milan striker did not attend due to Sweden’s failure to advance to the World Cup finals.
However, he did attend the tournament’s championship game and was photographed in the stands with tennis player Novak Djokovic and President of Paris Saint-Germain Nasser Al Khulaifi.
When Qatar was awarded the hosting rights for the World Cup, it faced unprecedented criticism from Western media outlets and public figures.
Doha hit back on several occasions, highlighting that no other World Cup host has been subjected to the same scrutiny.
Observers also pointed out that previous international sporting events have been hosted in Western countries responsible for grave human rights abuses, including during the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.
“People cannot accept a small country from the Middle East” hosting the World Cup and those criticising the tournament are “arrogant,” Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told Sky News back in November.
“What about their own problems within their countries, which they are turning a blind eye? Honestly, not me or the Qatari people only, but there’s a lot of people from around the world who are just seeing this as a sense of arrogance,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
“A sense of people who cannot accept a small country from the Middle East has won the bid to host the World Cup.”
Qatar made history in 2010 when it became the first Arab and Muslim country to win a bid to host the FIFA World Cup. Since, the country endured a slew of attacks from the western world, many of which targeted its treatment of migrant workers.
Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani as well as other top Qatari officials have repeatedly slammed the “racism” behind the campaigns, especially since they continued to emerge despite Doha addressing concerns and launching major reforms.
The amir described the campaigns as “ferocious” and “malicious” in October 2022 and questioned the intentions behind the criticism.
“Is such racism acceptable in Europe in the 21st century? Football belongs to everyone. It is not reserved for a club of elites. Four hundred and fifty million Arabs are delighted that the World Cup is finally being held in their region,” said Sheikh Mohammed on a separate occasion while speaking to Le Monde.