Female fans biggest World Cup bid losers

Evelyn Tsitas Roar Rookie

By Evelyn Tsitas, Evelyn Tsitas is a Roar Rookie

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    What message does FIFA’s choice of Qatar as host of the 2022 World Cup send to the growing number of female fans worldwide?

    FIFA President Sepp Blatter said that women’s football has its place, not just in the international calendar but on the world stage, and boasted that the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 will have a whole 24 participating countries.

    Qatar won the vote, despite, as NYDailyNews.com pointed out, “Concerns about that country’s treatment of women, its claustrophobic borders and its brutally hot summers.” (Dec. 2)

    I can only speak from personal experience, but Doha Airport, despite the thinnest veneer of western ambiance – the mediocre duty free hall, the ersatz American coffee shop and the English signs – swiftly reveals itself for what it is; the ugly greeting card for a country that would prefer all women to be neither seen nor heard. This is what will greet female fans in 2022.

    Two months ago I had the misfortune of an unscheduled stopover at Doha airport, currently Qatar’s only such facility, courtesy of a sick child and a missed transfer.

    As a woman traveling alone with a child, no wedding ring, and a different surname on my passport to my son’s, I had the full onslaught of Qatar hospitality; which is to say, conflicting information, being ignored and men speaking to my sick son rather than to me. I was told we had seats on the next flight, and to come back at a designated time in 18 hours.

    When it transpired that the next flight was full, there were no seats, and perhaps would be none for days, I finally lost my temper.

    “Madam, if you had a husband here with you, then your child would be home now,” I was told. “This is your fault. You are supposed to have someone who can help you with these things. And if not then a husband at home who would organise everything for you when things went wrong.”

    So I pulled out the trump card women have played for centuries: I cried. “I have a medical condition and I need to get back to Melbourne for treatment or I will collapse!” I wailed. Suddenly, the steel doors of airport indifference eased open a little. Competent and alone, I was treated with contempt. Now, broken and in despair, I could be pitied. It was suggested I buy an upgrade for business class tickets on the next flight. It transpired, after being shuffled from desk to desk, even these tickets were sold out.

    After 20 hours, I was told to leave the airport, venture into the extreme heat, find a hotel and wait. We staggered downstairs to organise a visa and I broke down and sobbed to the man behind the counter. Fragile and helpless worked. He arranged another flight for us, to Melbourne, Australia via Denpasar, Indonesia; no charge. After more waiting, he reemerged with solemn news. “Your brother called,” he said, with due reverence. “You must phone him and tell him we are taking care of you and your son. You must do so immediately and tell him we are helping you.”

    If you don’t have a husband handy, a brother or father will do in Doha Airport. The lifeline of patriarchy is the only thing a solo female traveler can rely on in Qatar.

    Good luck to the female fans FIFA is trying desperately to recruit.

    Evelyn Tsitas is the co-author of the parenting book Handle With Care. She is a doctorate student at RMIT University, Melbourne.

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    The Crowd Says (15)

    • December 5th 2010 @ 1:25am
      The Special One said | December 5th 2010 @ 1:25am | ! Report

      Unfortunately FIFA is trying to recruit money, not fans.

      • Roar Rookie

        December 5th 2010 @ 1:40am
        SideShowBob said | December 5th 2010 @ 1:40am | ! Report

        Agreed. They make their cash off TV rights, not tickets, so it’s probably more in thier interests that the crowds stay at home and watch on the box. I’m sure the technology to “paint in” crowds in the background will be well advanced in 2022.

        • December 5th 2010 @ 1:25pm
          sydboz said | December 5th 2010 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

          I have heard Qatar are making fans as well, they say the first person they create should be ready by 2020 and fully operational as a fan by 2022, otherwise their back up is paying off people from various Asian nations such as Vietnam to fly and in and pretend there are supporters. Let’s hope they’re wearing the right gear for their team. Boycott 2022!!

    • December 5th 2010 @ 1:56am
      Forgetmenot said | December 5th 2010 @ 1:56am | ! Report

      Slightly off topic, but i find it very interesting how sporting organisations around the world (in particular the football codes) all label the womens version of events, clubs, awards as the Womens. Ie Womens World Cup, Womens Soccer Team, Womens Golden Boot Award ….
      Does anyone not find this at all sexist?
      Not trying to take any moral highground, but i do find it a very interesting topic.

      Very good and insightful article!

      • December 6th 2010 @ 9:56pm
        Yes Maam said | December 6th 2010 @ 9:56pm | ! Report

        Possibly something to do with the fact its the women’s competition for said events, also to avoid confusion. Next you’ll be telling us that we shouldn’t call them women’s toilets, or women’s hospitals for example as those terms may be sexist too!…and don’t worry, you have no moral highground.

    • December 5th 2010 @ 6:17am
      Nir said | December 5th 2010 @ 6:17am | ! Report

      Well one of the aspects in bringing the World Cup to Qatar is that this country will have to deal with many social challenges – including women.

      To let you know, Qatar is one of the most advanced countries in the Middle East and the women there have more rights than most countries in the region. This society is progressing very fast, in 12 years you will see a diverced, open, modern society and not only beautiful stadiums.

      Give them a chance.

      • December 5th 2010 @ 7:17am
        AGO74 said | December 5th 2010 @ 7:17am | ! Report

        More rights for the woman such as that shown in this story.

        Also, don’t you dare be a homosexual or be shown to be under the infuence of alcohol in a public place or we’ll arrest you on the spot and give you 50 lashes for your troubles.

        Sounds like a society progressing with sloth like speed.

    • December 5th 2010 @ 6:58am
      Qatar 2022 said | December 5th 2010 @ 6:58am | ! Report


      Another one of the many positives for giving the world cup to qatar is that concerned women like you bring out these issues in the public foray.

      your probably not interested in watching qatari bid team interviews after they won but they did make a mention to womens rights and the importance of women in the game.

      the world cup will bring change!, 12 years to look forward to in the middle east, you dont know how much it means to the whole region, change can and will happen.

      a world cup given to australia is a waste for the world, there are other nations and regions who can use it as a tool to promote peace and hope.

      • December 5th 2010 @ 7:23am
        AGO74 said | December 5th 2010 @ 7:23am | ! Report

        FIFA World Cup 2022 is a rich man’s plaything for an extraodinarily rich nation. If you want to give it to the middle east, no worries but give it a middle eastern or arab world nation which deserves to host it based on its size, history – both societal and football history. Egypt, Morocco, Iran etc. Of the nations in the middle east that deserve to host a World Cup, Qatar is way down the bottom.

      • December 6th 2010 @ 12:36am
        The Clint said | December 6th 2010 @ 12:36am | ! Report

        ‘a waste for the world’ bold statement by a clearly delusional person. So on that basis that means Russia’s right to host 2018 is a waste too, and should be given to East Timor then? Why not? It promotes peace and hope.

        Although I’m not overly pleased with Qatar 2022 I also don’t hate it, it’s not the worst thing in the world. I’m just not so happy on a nation that’s never come close to qualifying for the world cup(or really caring about the sport for that matter) winning the right to host it.

    • December 5th 2010 @ 3:16pm
      AngrySeahorse said | December 5th 2010 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

      Great article, I’m not a big fan of soccer but I still dont mind watching the world cup, in Qatar’s case I will not be tuning in.

    • December 6th 2010 @ 12:41am
      The Clint said | December 6th 2010 @ 12:41am | ! Report

      Sorry to hear that Evelyn. Hopefully by 2022 womens rights in Qatar are drastically better for the women who are willing to travel to the world cup in 2022

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