Brock experts explore World Cup from various angles

EXPERT ADVISORY: 18 November 2022 – R0126

As viewers around the world prepare to tune in to the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar, experts from Brock University are discussing the tournament from a variety of angles.

With Canada taking part in only its second-ever men’s World Cup, Assistant Professor of Sport Management Olan Scott has considered the role the tournament can play in uniting the country.

“The nation may become a homogenous group of fans cheering for the same athletes united under one flag, regardless of their other differences,” he says. “By including more nationalistic elements, sport media are able to create a collective sense of identity for consumers whereby they have more in common with ‘home’ nation athletes than those from other nations. These common characteristics help bring people together in cheering for the same athletes united under their flag.”

Along with potentially developing a collective identity, the tournament can also serve as a form of inspiration for a generation of young people to participate in the sport themselves, Professor of Kinesiology Nota Klentrou says.

“Soccer participation is increasing in Canada due to the popularity of events like the World Cup,” she says. “A larger talent pool leads to success. A good example is Canada’s female soccer team and their Olympic medals. For me, as a pediatric sports scientist, higher soccer participation is exciting because this is a relatively inexpensive team sport characterized by high-impact loads that benefit bone growth while encompassing both intermittent eccentric high-intensity and continuous aerobic components.”

While Canadians have expressed enthusiasm over the World Cup, Assistant Professor of Sport Management Taylor McKee says the residents of Qatar may have different feelings about the event.

“Sporting mega events like the World Cup are not simply athletic competitions,” he says. “The games are received and observed by residents of the host cities, many of whom may have been opposed to an event’s imposition on their homes. Sporting mega-events like the World Cup can overwhelm their hosts, a marauding, cumbersome, all-consuming experience, forever altering the fabric of the community in which they arrive.”

Much conversation has also taken place around allegations of human rights abuses in Qatar.

Associate Professor Simon Black in the Department of Labour Studies says investigations into the deaths of more than 6,500 Asian and African migrant workers in Qatar’s preparation to host the World Cup have drawn international attention.

“Reports have detailed both the discrimination and exploitation migrant workers have experienced and the failures of Qatar’s efforts at ‘reform’ of labour laws,” says Black. “In the past weeks, we have seen fan protests in stadiums across Europe, urging fellow fans to boycott the World Cup, as well as various national teams making statements about workers’ rights and pledging to meet with migrant workers in Qatar. Whether this leads to serious reforms is yet to be seen.”

Black hopes that increased media scrutiny on World Cup labour issues could lead to more awareness of the conditions for migrant workers everywhere.

“While it is easy to point fingers at Qatar, the increased attention on the conditions facing migrant workers who built World Cup stadiums opens space to discuss migrant workers’ rights globally, including here at home in Canada with programs like the Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Program,” he says.

With these protests in mind, Associate Professor Sport Management Michael Naraine says brands are looking cautiously at the Men’s World Cup with a similar strategy to that of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

“The focus is less on the place and more on the teams, their athletes and their exceptional effort to make it to the tournament, including Canada,” he says. “This event will be highly viewed in North America during the morning and afternoon TV windows, and you’re going to hear very little about the atrocities in Qatar, and more about the athletic feats of Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David.”

The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 takes place from Sunday, Nov. 20 until Sunday, Dec. 18.

Brock University Assistant Professor of Sport Management Olan Scott, Professor of Kinesiology Nota Klentrou, Assistant Professor of Sport Management Taylor McKee, Associate Professor of Labour Studies Simon Black and Associate Professor Sport Management Michael Naraine are available for media interviews on the topic.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Doug Hunt, Communications and Media Relations Specialist, Brock University or 905-941-6209 

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