The World Cup kicked off in Qatar on Sunday, bringing together soccer fans from around the world. But “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver is still baffled by the fact that the tournament is taking place in Qatar this year, despite objections. So, on Sunday night’s show, he called out FIFA directly for the choice.
Before he got into it all, Oliver admitted that he himself is still pretty excited for the World Cup, joking that he looks forward to it with the same enthusiasm as people with leap year birthdays have for their true birthdays. But, that being said, Oliver also noted that “FIFA has always been terrible,” calling them “a cartel-like group of scumbags and assorted criminals who occasionally put on soccer matches.”
Oliver then pointed out that the organization did in fact do their own independent analysis of Qatar’s bid, and determined that it would not only be logistically difficult, but also dangerous as well.
“I won’t say that Qatar definitely got the World Cup through bribery,” Oliver said. “But I won’t say that they didn’t, and I will say that they did.”
The late night host went on to lay out a laundry list of issues in the country, likening FIFA’s choice to the Westminster Dog Show crowning a tortoise as its victor. Pointing out that Qatar had almost none of the infrastructure required to host such a large tournament, Oliver dug in on how exactly the stadiums got built, spotlighting stories from reporters who actually went to see them in person.
“All of the new stadiums and infrastructure were essentially built through modern-day slavery,” he said. “So we should probably introduce a new collective noun to refer to this group of stadiums: a gaggle of geese, a pod of whales, an atrocity of stadiums.”
Oliver pointed out that the tournament this year was effectively “built on human suffering,” and noted that Qatar officials have tried to lie about the conditions their workers faced. That said, the late night host also conceded that there have been improvements in conditions for workers, but that those improvements “have some major asterisks on them.” Even so, FIFA has touted those improvements as well, even going so far as to take credit for them.
Pulling up a clip of FIFA’s president saying that “all the changes that have happened in this country, in terms of human rights and workers rights” came because of the excitement and possibilities attached to the World Cup being hosted there, Oliver scorched the organization once more.
“OK Corruption Caillou, that is one hell of a f—ing claim there,” Oliver said. “Because you cannot possibly argue FIFA deserves credit here. FIFA’s evaluation of Qatar’s bid had literally zero mentions of human rights or demands for labor reforms.”
In fact, Oliver went so far as to say that if Qatar had actually introduced and passed a law called “The Doubling Down on Slave Labor Act of 2019,” FIFA still would’ve given the bid to the country.
You can watch Oliver’s full segment on the World Cup in the video above.