Swiss city boycotts Qatar World Cup
With less than 10 days to go until the first players take to the field in Qatar, enthusiasm for the FIFA World Cup in 2022 has been somewhat lukewarm in Switzerland. According to SRF, a number of fan zones and public viewings of the World Cup have been cancelled, with one Swiss city boycotting the tournament entirely.
FIFA World Cup in Qatar embroiled in controversy
Ever since Qatar was announced as the host of the World Cup at an event in Zurich in 2010, the tournament has been mired in controversy regarding human rights violations and corruption at FIFA. Even Sepp Blatter, the former president of FIFA, told the Tages-Anzeiger that awarding the tournament to Qatar was a mistake.
More recently, an interview with World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman on German broadcaster ZDF caused much anger after he said “homosexuality is a damage in the mind.” A majority of Germans now say they want to boycott the tournament.
In more practical terms, the fact the tournament is being held in winter is having an adverse effect on fan numbers and enthusiasm for the competition. Many major European cities like Amsterdam have confirmed that outdoor terraces will not be allowed to broadcast the tournament, partly due to the cold.
Vevey and Lausanne will not show Qatar World Cup in public areas
In Switzerland, the city of Vevey in Canton Vaud was the first to announce it will be boycotting the World Cup in Qatar. According to a statement given to RTS on November 8, the city council of Vevey has banned any demonstration or broadcast in a public space that has any connection with the World Cup.
Authorities in Lausanne have also said that they will not instal any public screens to broadcast football matches. City councillor Emilie Moeschler told RTS that "given the situation of human rights violations and non-respect of working conditions in Qatar, the city of Lausanne is not going to organise fan zones...we have to do everything we can to push international sports organisations to organise events that respect human rights and working conditions."
Switzerland sees few applications for public viewing of the World Cup
In Geneva, organisers of a planned fan zone - which would have broadcast games on a huge public screen - told Blick that “90 percent of the hoped-for sponsors no longer wanted to associate their name with the event." Around half of the restaurants and bars involved in the fan zone had withdrawn, and with a petition against the fan zone growing, organisers cancelled the event.
In Basel and Lucerne, not a single application for public viewings of the World Cup has been submitted. One application has been submitted in Bern, while two have been organised in St. Gallen. In Canton Zurich, the city of Winterthur will be hosting a large fan zone with space for up to 1.000 revellers.
Finally, at the home of FIFA, Zurich has received one application for a fan zone in the city, which is currently being debated by officials. However, the local council is also set to decide whether Zurich should boycott the World Cup altogether, at a vote set to be held on November 17.
Are people in Switzerland planning to boycott the Qatar World Cup?
While several government officials and cities have made their feelings known, it remains to be seen whether a significant proportion of people in Switzerland will actually boycott the tournament. Speaking to 20 minuten, sociologist Ueli Mäder said “many fans are undecided. Some fear that the World Cup in Qatar will gloss over and legitimise a lot of injustice."
"Others, on the other hand, hope that the public attention will make the situation in Qatar more transparent and humane," Mäder noted. He concluded that, while it is hard to tell whether a significant number of people will boycott the tournament, in the words of 20 minuten, “I know very few fans who don't give a damn that Qatar are the hosts.”