Is a big boycott of the World Cup in Qatar really possible?

Is a big boycott of the World Cup in Qatar really possible?

Fabien Bonnel will continue to give voice, this Thursday (8:45 p.m.) to France-Austria in the heart of the Irresistibles Français, but then he will start looking for “raclette and fondue companions” to occupy his guaranteed evenings without a screen from November 20. . However, we are talking about one of the founders (and kingpin) of the main group of followers of the Blues (1,600 members) for almost 20 years. After following the adventures of the tricolors in Germany (2006), Brazil (2014) and Russia (2018), this is one of the symbols of this #BoycottQatar2022 that has been growing significantly in France in recent weeks.

“Obviously it’s too late to change anything in this competition, says the 38-year-old football fan. But my action is mainly directed at Fifa, so that later social, environmental and human problems are taken into account. My only solution to go after my convictions and have a small role in the future of football is to turn off the television during the entire World Cup, whatever the course of the Blues. »

Three of his Irrésistibles teammates have even boycotted all the qualifying matches for this World Cup in Qatar since March 2021. However, after having organized an awareness meeting with Amnesty International, the group of supporters voted in a general assembly against of a collective boycott. of the association Therefore, each of its members was free to plan a stay in Qatar at the end of autumn. If more than 4,000 French are expected in Doha in two months, there will only be a hundred Irresistibles, compared to the 650 members of the World Cup in Russia four years earlier.

The Irrésistibles Français will be six times less numerous in Qatar than in the previous World Cup in Russia.
The Irrésistibles Français will be six times less numerous in Qatar than in the previous World Cup in Russia. -FRANCK FIFE / AFP

“Non-negotiable human and planetary issues”

As the France team plays one of its last two games before the World Cup, this Thursday at the Stade de France, how much can this music that comes from a big boycott affect France? 20 minutes It received 329 testimonials in two days, following its call for input on this topic on Tuesday. An important number for this type of calls. Among these messages, 90% of our readers, almost all of whom claim to be football fans, say that they do not want to look at the slightest image of the competition. And this to “be clear with your conscience in the face of this masquerade.” “Since 2010, I’ve been devastated that the organization of the World Cup is in the hands of Qatar,” says Agnès (67 years old). Human and planetary issues are non-negotiable. »

Patrick (71) is not deliberately zapping his first major sports competition: “For similar reasons, I boycotted the Beijing and Sochi Olympics on television. Therefore, I will do the same with Qatar in the hope that a drop in television audiences will put the football authorities face to face with their moral responsibility, which is overwhelming. Madness, excess, money and disrespect for fundamental freedoms devastate this sport that is no longer the one he loved. And that’s my only way of saying it seriously.” Also critical of the outdoor air conditioning system in most of these new stadiums, which is particularly spotty amid global warming news, Léo (31) questions .

Can a few hours of fun justify thousands of deaths and a terrible carbon footprint after the summer we just spent? This World Cup is a social, political and ecological aberration. Fifa now has blood on her hands, I won’t have anything in my eyes. »

“Thousands of victims” in the construction works of the stadiums

Roland (46 years old) launches a track to reconcile himself with said competition: “If all those who benefit from the economic boom generated by this event compensated all the victims and those who did not get paid for their work, it would be the beginning of a beginning of the dignity”. This is the fight waged for many years by Amnesty International. The NGO asks FIFA for “at least 440 million dollars for the 2 million migrant workers” in this World Cup in Qatar. The recent mobilization of public opinion could help convince FIFA to act, while its profits are estimated at 6 billion euros thanks to this tournament.

“The German and Dutch federations have publicly supported our approach,” explains Lola Schulmann, Advocacy Director at Amnesty International. We can change the legacy of this World Cup by allowing workers to get justice. More than 6,500 of them would have died in the construction works of the World Cup stadiums, according to an article in the guardian in February 2021, while Amnesty International prefers to speak of “thousands of victims”.

The Lusail Stadium will host, in particular, the opening match and the final of the next World Cup.
The Lusail Stadium will host, in particular, the opening match and the final of the next World Cup. – Xinhua News Agency/New China/Sipa

The risk of a “big deficit” of bars?

The NGO, which does not call for a boycott, has just published two surveys linked to this World Cup. One shows that of a panel of 1,018 French adults surveyed, 48% do not want to watch any matches in the tournament. The other is even more significant, revealing that 66% of the 17,477 people surveyed (across 15 countries) would like World Cup sponsors and business partners to publicly ask FIFA to compensate migrant workers injured during the preparation of this competition. . Four major sponsors — Adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Budweiser — have also supported reparations for workers. Could the world of advertising consider at its level, in France, a boycott of this event? The media expect a World Cup “almost like the others” in this sense. “People will watch the games and advertisers will be forced to participate,” says one in a national newspaper, even if two of its partners have cut 100% of their media investments during the period.

With few exceptions, bars and restaurants accustomed to broadcasting great football matches do not intend to miss an event of this type. “There was no debate on the subject in our establishment, assures Laura, manager of the Le République brasserie in Lyon. I would be surprised if many colleagues went to the end of this boycott process, as it would represent a huge deficit. A surprising barometer of the rise of a major boycott can be found on the Facebook page of Boycott Qatar 2022. Behind this summer creation, “to raise awareness among friends”, is Alain Baduel, a lawyer in Aix-en-Provence and a passionate of soccer. and OM.

An upcoming “Colombo hype”?

All that was needed was to share, on September 12, a letter from Eric Cantona, of which 20 minutes still unable to certify authenticity, only to grow his page from 250 followers to over 5,000 in three days. He would rebel, therefore, against this World Cup: “Let France win, lose, nothing to add up! In life there are much more important things than football. Instead I will rewatch all the episodes of columbusI haven’t seen them in a long time”. This alleged text by the former Manchester United legend has therefore contributed to the recent dimension of #BoycottQatar2022 on social networks. In addition to “Canto”, the actors Vincent Lindon, then Roschdy Zem on Tuesday, the two took very different positions on the issue during the show. It’s yours. A new proof that the controversy of this World Cup in Qatar goes far beyond the framework of football.

“It shows people’s growing interest in the subject,” says Alain Baduel. There is an expectation of a speech other than a simple “It’s too late.” Institutions have been failing on the issue for 12 years, so it’s good to see a truly selfless, apolitical, citizen movement emerging. “And that goes for the lawyer unlikely requests on a daily basis, like this desire of an elected official from Aix-en-Provence to really spread columbus in city bars. What if Peter Falk unseats Kylian Mbappé and Karim Benzema in the hearts of the French in two months?

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