Qatar hosting World Cup is a ‘mistake of biblical proportions’, says professor after criticism of Southgate’s comments

3 November 2022, 12:56

'The only parallel I can think about is the building of the pyramids in Egypt by a slave army.'

By Phoebe Dampare Osei

Sociology of Sport Professor John Sugden told Nick Ferrari the decision to give Qatar the World Cup is comparable to the “building of the pyramids in Egypt by a slave army”, after Gareth Southgate claimed workers there were “united” in wanting it.

John Sugden, Emeritus Professor of the Sociology of Sport at the University of Brighton spoke to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC today, after Gareth Southgate received criticism for saying workers in Qatar were “united” in wanting the World Cup there.

“What words of warning might you have given Gareth Southgate prior to that interview? Has he committed a bit of an own-goal here Professor?”, asked Nick.

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Professor Sugden answered: “Absolutely. I would have said ‘Keep your mouth shut and concentrate on the football!’”

England Manager Gareth Southgate had told CNN: "I've been out to Qatar several times and I've met with lots of the workers out there and they are united in certainly one thing - that's that they want the tournament to happen, and they want that because they love football.”

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Minky Worden of Human Rights Watch said: "There are many migrant workers who are proud of the work they have done to build the World Cup in Qatar.

"But there are also many who have suffered preventable deaths and harms and until the deaths, loans, injuries and wage theft are compensated, it is not correct to say all migrant workers are 'united'."

READ MORE: Gareth Southgate slammed for claiming Qatar workers "united" in wanting World Cup

Nick asked Professor Sugden: “Politics and sport - why does it appear they are so intricately interwoven?”

“The decision to give the World Cup to Qatar, a desert state, is a mistake of biblical proportions”, came the Professor’s bold declaration.

“The only parallel I can think about is the building of the pyramids in Egypt by a slave army, many of whom lost their lives during that project just to build these totems to satiate the egos of the dictators of the day.”

Nick continued: “How did Qatar get it, do you imagine, given the background to that country?”

“Let’s just call it payback time”, the Professor replied, before launching into a story.

“I was in France in ‘98 when Sepp Blatter was running for the Presidency of FIFA, challenged by Lennart Johansson who then was the President of UEFA.

“At the time it was neck and neck. I went to the hotel where all the national associations were staying the night before the election, and I met a well-placed FIFA insider who was also rooting for Johansson.

“I said to him…it looks like by the promises [that] have been made, Johansson’s going to win this election tomorrow, and he said ‘No he’s not’. I said 'What do you mean?'

“He said, ‘What you don’t know is that upstairs in the rooms where the national associations are staying, there is an emissary from the Emir of Qatar and he’s got a bag full of money with millions of dollars and I can assure you Sepp Blatter will win the election tomorrow by a landslide.’ And that happened.

“So what we’ve got in Qatar is payback time”, the Professor concluded.

“Quite a story”, Nick pondered, intrigued.

The call sparked debate on Twitter about the ties between sport and politics.

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