Guantanamo World Cup

Last Updated on January 19, 2023 by

In 2022, we are witnessing a World Cup like no other – a World Cup full of firsts, especially for football fans in the Global South. Taking place in Qatar, it is the first to be hosted by an Arab country. Millions of Muslims can experience the world’s top sporting events taking place in their own neighbourhood. We also saw an African team advance to the semifinals for the first time in World Cup history. Sure, it was Argentina who took home the trophy, but countless football fans around the world felt like winners.

That same tournament, however, left me with a feeling of sadness and a throbbing headache. As I watch the game in a cafe near my home in Belgrade, Serbia, surrounded by soccer fans glued to TV screens, I struggle to share their excitement. Loud noises, excited faces and joy in the air takes me back to Guantanamo, back in 2010, when we prisoners were allowed to watch the World Cup for the first time. Watching the tournament in Qatar made me recall the hopes, fears and frustrations I endured during my 14 years in prison and wonder when those of us Guantanamo survivors will finally get justice.

I arrived at the infamous military detention facility at Guantanamo, Cuba in early 2002, just months before the start of the 2002 World Cup. I had little interest in soccer, and while I was trying to make sense of what was happening to me and where I was, I wasn’t thinking about the upcoming tournament at all. At first, the other inmates didn’t say much about the World Cup either. In the early days of our imprisonment, we were held in Camp X-Ray, in a row of chain cages, where we were rarely given the opportunity to talk to other prisoners. And every time we get a chance to exchange words, we talk about our prospects for release, not football.

Over time, and after the protests and hunger strike, we were allowed to talk to each other again. Once we got to know each other, it didn’t take long before the conversation turned to the World Cup.

The guys told me about their favorite players, the games they would never forget, and the teams they wanted to see play. It seems that some of them know everything there is to know about the World Cup – who is the best player and team, who scores the most goals, the different home and away jerseys… the entire history of FIFA and World Cups. I was only 19 and didn’t know much about soccer at all, so I was excited for my new brother to introduce me to this crazy new world.

Many prisoners hoped to be released before the start of the tournament. We have gone on a hunger strike and asked the general in charge of the camp to admit that “most of us shouldn’t be here”. He had told us that Washington would send someone soon to assess our case. We all thought that we would watch the opening match of the 2002 World Cup at home, with our friends and family.

However, days and weeks went by, and nothing had changed – no one had come to judge our case. After three months at Camp X-Ray, they moved us to Camp Delta, a more permanent camp made out of shipping containers. Once in our new home we lost all hope of being released in time for the World Cup.

During the World Cup, the interrogations at Guantanamo were intense and seemed endless. Some inmates still dare to ask the interrogator which team has excelled in the tournament. They claimed the World Cup had been “canceled” because “Osama Bin Laden threatened to attack the match”. Why did Bin Laden attack football matches taking place in Japan and South Korea? We know the interrogators are lying. They don’t even want us to think about events that can bring us joy and make us forget our suffering for a moment.

Unwilling to admit defeat, his fellow convicts embark on a quest to learn the results of the World Cup matches. Back then, no one had a lawyer, so it wasn’t easy to find someone to give us news from the outside world. Even a Red Cross representative refused to talk to us about the World Cup because it was “against camp rules”. Those of us who can speak English repeatedly asked the guard. Most of them never answered, but a few occasionally agreed to tell us their scores.

So every time one of the prisoners knows the result of the game, he will shout it out. Word would travel from case to case, cage to cage, with inmates celebrating or complaining about the results.

That World Cup, which Brazil ended up winning, not only gave us a savior in a moment of great despair but also paved the way for us to forge relationships with the keepers. Our interest in tournaments, and our knowledge of football, and mastery of the English language, greatly shocked many of the rangers, who were led to believe that we were uneducated, mad animals capable of only violence.

The prison administration did not forget the prisoners’ love for football after the 2002 World Cup ended. The following year, they brought soccer to the camp and announced that obedient prisoners would be allowed to play it in the cage twice a week for 10 minutes. The arrangement was well received by the inmates. Many enter the arena simply to kick the ball, burn off energy and release stress, while others enter to perform tricks and show off their skills.

In 2005, the administration began allowing submissive inmates to play ball in the recreation yard, in pairs, twice a week for 30 minutes. The prisoners will use the water bottles as their goalposts, and play will continue until the bottles on one side are knocked down.

Approaching the 2006 World Cup, which was to be hosted by Germany, we started working on securing a way to watch it. At that time we had access to a lawyer who offered to bring in a TV so we could watch the game. The camp administration immediately rejected this offer.

It’s not at all surprising that the prison authorities forbid us from engaging in innocent recreational activities. In 2006, the situation at Guantanamo was worse than ever. Most of us had been in the camps for more than three years and had little hope of finding justice or freedom. Harassment was rampant and we slowly lost the will to continue our struggle.

So, just a few weeks before the World Cup started, we once again went on a hunger strike to protest our arbitrary detention, torture, abuse and inhuman treatment. Over 400 of us refused to eat. The camp admins quickly put a stop to the strike with brutal force-feeding. On June 10, 2006, the day after the opening match of the World Cup, three prisoners were found dead in their cells under suspicious circumstances. Then the riot guards burst into our cell. Life in the camp was like hell. The guards were ordered not to discuss anything with us, let alone the World Cup. Most of the letters, including those from our lawyers, were arbitrarily confiscated. Our dream of enjoying the World Cup with the rest of the world has once again been shattered.

Over the next few years, our situation did not improve at all and watching football remained a distant dream. But everything changed after the 2008 US presidential election.

Barack Obama, who had promised to close Guantanamo as president, moved into the White House. On January 22, 2009, his second day in office, he issued an executive order, directing the prison to be closed within one year. The Republican Senate blocked his efforts, and he ultimately left office without closing Guantanamo, but his presidency led to some positive changes within the camp.

Under the Obama presidency, we got the right to communal living and health care and phone calls with our families. We also get access to TV, newspapers, books, game consoles, classes and DVDs. And, to the delight of our many soccer-mad brethren, we were given access to footage of the 2002 and 2006 World Cup finals via the library.

When the 2010 World Cup started in South Africa, the excitement was felt at Guantanamo. We can’t watch the games live but the library distributes the fixtures and provides each block with footage of the matches. Football is all that everyone can talk about.

I had never watched a World Cup game before but even though I still wasn’t particularly interested in the game, I really enjoyed watching all my brothers glued to the screen. They cheered, shouted, and sometimes even thumped the table or grabbed their hair in frustration. They constantly comment on players’ performances, criticize managers and analyze team strategies. For once, our lives felt somewhat normal. We are like millions of other people around the world – focused on the game to forget our problems.

After the 2010 World Cup, football remained a part of life in Guantanamo. A year later, in 2011, we had our own “Guantanamo Cup”, where blocks of prisoners played against each other. Both players and fans took the tournament very seriously, there were chants, red cards, heated discussions and even fisticuffs. The losers will be told to cook delicious food for the winners. The bouncers get involved too, cheering for their chosen team and placing bets on the team they believe will win.

At the end of our “Guantanamo Cup,” we wanted to form a team of star prisoners and play against the guards with the condition that if we win, we leave Guantanamo. We have very good players and are sure that we will win in a fair competition. We were notified by the camp administration and the Pentagon would review our proposal and get back to us. More than a decade later, we are still waiting for answers. Some of us are free now, but we would all be happy to get back to playing against the guards and helping free our brothers who are still imprisoned.

I’m really trying to enjoy watching the 2022 World Cup as a free man, but can’t stop thinking about my 35 brothers who are still stuck in Guantanamo. Are they allowed to watch games like we did in 2010? Will they ever sit in their own cafe or living room and watch the World Cup final surrounded by their friends and family?

Of the detainees still at Guantanamo, 21 have been officially released. We, however, do not know exactly when they will be released or what will happen to those who remain. After four hopeless years under Donald Trump, who has promised to expand rather than close Guantanamo, Democrats are back in power. However, there is still no word on when this tropical torture chamber will be thrown into the dustbin of history.

The US will co-host the 2026 World Cup. I wonder if Guantanamo will be closed by then, or if steps are being taken to provide justice for those of us who suffered there. I don’t expect it, but I do want to see calls for the cancellation of the upcoming World Cup due to America’s countless human rights abuses, including the one that continues to be perpetrated at Guantanamo.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.


What does Qatar own in UK?

What does Qatar own in UK?

What did the UK buy from Qatar? (£16.8 million), and Kompas (£7.2 million). As of October 2022, the UK’s main imports from Qatar were Petroleum Gas (£504M), Gas Turbine (£38.9M), Compass (£6.02M), Computers (£1.49M) and an unspecified commodity in elsewhere (£1.45m).

Does Qatar own Harrods?

GenreDepartment store
Founding fatherCharles Henry Harrod

Who owns Harrods now 2022?

Four years later it was announced that Harrods had been sold to Qatar Holding.

Why is Harrods owned by Qatar?

Al-Fayed, now 93, beat mining giant Lonrho to buy House of Fraser, the holding company that controlled Harrods, in 1985. Mohamed Al-Fayed sold the famed London department store, Harrods, to Qatar Holding, the investment arm of Middle Wealth Fund eastern state sovereignty, in 2010.

How much does Qatar invest in UK?

Total UK imports from Qatar totaled £5.5 billion in the four quarters to the end of Q2 2022 (an increase of 282.6% or £4.1 billion compared to the four quarters to the end of Q2 2021). In 2020, the outward stock of foreign direct investment (FDI) from the UK in Qatar was not available due to data disclosure.

Is Qatar an ally of the UK?

The UK and Qatar cooperate on a wide range of political, commercial, security and economic issues of mutual interest to both countries. These include tackling climate change, promoting prosperity and security in the region, and helping British companies succeed in Qatar.

Where does Qatar invest?

As a result of its stated strategy of minimizing risks from Qatar’s dependence on energy prices, the fund invests mostly in international markets (United States, Europe and Asia-Pacific) and within Qatar outside of the energy sector.

Does Qatar own Sainsbury?

However, it is understood that QIA, which owns a 25.1% stake in Sainsbury’s, does not want its stake in the retailer reduced or to pour more money into new stock to help fund the deal.

Who are Sainsburys owned by?

J Sainsbury plc is the parent company of Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd, the third largest supermarket chain in the UK, with 16.3% market share. The largest overall shareholder is the investment vehicles of the Qatari royal family who now hold 26.145% of the company’s shares.

What do Qatar own in London?

Qatar is one of London’s biggest investors through its sovereign wealth fund. The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) owns the Harrods department store, the Shard skyscraper and is a co-owner of Canary Wharf.

Is Qatar making money from World Cup?

Is Qatar making money from World Cup?

Qatar 2022 CEO Nasser al-Khater expects the FIFA World Cup will contribute $17 billion to Qatar’s economy during the event, down from an initial estimate of $20 billion. If we did a simple calculation to estimate $17 billion annually for the next 23 years, a CAPEX of $229 billion would be recouped using an estimated cost of debt of 5%.

How much does Qatar spend on the World Cup? Qatar is reported to have invested around $220 billion, it is debatable, into staging this mega event. This is a record jump over the amount spent on the previous issue which now seems so cheap.

Does the World Cup make money?

The short answer is no. Most of the host countries for the World Cup spent tens of billions on preparations, building infrastructure, building hotels and so on. Most of that is often non-recoverable, at least not in cash. The World Cup is of course a money spinner.

Is Qatar World Cup profitable?

Qatar and other countries that host the World Cup spend tens of billions on preparations, develop infrastructure, build infrastructure projects and so on, but such investments are unprofitable and recouped because the NPV is very negative in the short and medium term.

Do countries get money for winning World Cup?

In the World Cup, the winning team is given prize money and then they decide how to divide it between players and staff.

Why does Qatar spend so much on World Cup?

Zimbalist says that any serious calculation of the true cost of the Qatar World Cup cannot focus only on the seven stadiums built – which authorities say cost around $6.5 billion – but also the extensive infrastructure development in areas such as transport, telecommunications and security. , as …

Why did Qatar invest in World Cup?

Qatar plans to compete with Dubai and attract tourists and visitors in the near future. In the long term, the money Qatar spends on hosting, if managed properly, will build the country’s economic capacity to thrive. New roads and transport projects will provide economic benefits for years after the World Cup.

What is the controversy about Qatar World Cup?

Migrant worker deaths and human rights abuses With a mix of intense investment in construction and Qatar’s questionable record of labor rights abuses, accusations of unnecessary migrant worker deaths have damaged the reputation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

What will Qatar do with the stadiums after the World Cup?

Al Thumama Stadium will still host events, but will have a hotel, sports clinic and more. The Lusail Stadium, which hosted 10 World Cup matches including the semifinals and final, will be converted into a mixed residential and commercial centre. Stage 974 will also disappear completely.

How many of the stadiums are done in Qatar?

The 64 matches of the 2023 FIFA World Cup will be held in 8 football stadiums in Qatar – Al Bayt Stadium, Khalifa International Stadium, Al Thumama Stadium, Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium, Lusail Stadium, 974 Stadium, City of Education Stadium and Al Janub Stadium.

How much is Qatar spending on World Cup stadiums?

Even Qatar’s finance minister admits spending $500 million a week for years on infrastructure projects. According to a report from The Tass, the cost of building the eight stadiums was quoted at $6.5 billion.

Why are people against Qatar World Cup?

Why are people against Qatar World Cup?

Among them: global corruption scandals, the huge price to pay to build the necessary facilities, serious human rights concerns about the state’s treatment of migrant workers and outrage over Qatar’s treatment of women and LGBTQI people.

Why is the football team protesting the 2022 Qatar World Cup? The choice to host the World Cup in Qatar has been a source of substantive controversy, as criticism regarding various human rights abuses in Qatar, particularly its treatment of migrant workers and attitudes towards LGBT issues, has led to accusations of sportswashing.

Why is Qatar criticized?

Towards the end of the 2022 World Cup, global rights organizations again criticized Qatar and FIFA over the treatment of the thousands of migrant workers who built stadiums and tournament infrastructure.

Why is Qatar 2022 controversial?

With a mix of intense investment in construction and Qatar’s questionable record of violations of workers’ rights, allegations of unnecessary deaths of migrant workers have damaged the reputation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Is Qatar violating human rights?

Qatar’s history of human rights violations goes far beyond labor exploitation. Freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of association are all severely restricted in Qatar, which is rated by Freedom House the Unfree in the Freedoms in the World, an annual survey of political rights and civil liberties.

What is the problem with the Qatar World Cup?

Criticism of human rights in Qatar has focused on the treatment of migrant workers, women, and LGBT rights positions, leading to accusations of sports laundering. Others cited Qatar’s intense climate and lack of a strong football culture, as well as evidence of bribes for hosting rights and wider FIFA corruption.

Why is Qatar World Cup being boycotted?

Highlights from the study showed that Qatar’s systematic labor abuse (reportedly over 6,500 migrant workers have died supporting infrastructure and construction for the tournament) and the country’s blatant discrimination against women and LGBTQ people have led to online movements to boycott the tournament. . . .

Is Norway boycotting the World Cup?

“Last year Norway debated a boycott of the 2022 World Cup. Instead, we chose dialogue and pressure through FIFA as the best way to seek change.

What is the controversy with the World Cup?

What is the controversy with the World Cup?

Migrant worker deaths and human rights abuses With a mix of intense investment in construction and Qatar’s questionable record of labor rights abuses, accusations of unnecessary migrant worker deaths have damaged the reputation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Is FIFA being bribed by Qatar? After years of investigations and prosecutions, the United States Department of Justice said Monday for the first time that representatives working for Russia and Qatar had bribed FIFA officials to secure hosting rights to the World Cup in men’s soccer.

Why is the World Cup so controversial?

ALLEGES OF CORRUPTION Organizers of the 2022 World Cup have strongly denied allegations from the US Department of Justice that bribes were paid to secure votes when the tournament’s hosting rights were granted 12 years ago.

Why are people protesting World Cup?

The big picture: Players and countries have used the world stage to speak out against their own countries and host nation Qatar, which has been criticized for human rights abuses. Details: FIFA said ahead of the tournament that every team should be “focused on football” rather than world affairs, per BBC News.

Why is World Cup 2022 controversial?

FIFA’s decision drew overall criticism for the lack of human rights protections for women, migrant workers, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender (LGBT) and journalists in Qatar.

Who is left in Guantanamo Bay?

Who is left in Guantanamo Bay?

Since 2002, 779 Muslim men and boys have been held at Guantanamo, nearly all without charge or trial. Currently, 39 men remain in detention indefinitely there, and 27 of them have never been charged with any crime. Fourteen of the 27 have been released for transfer or release, some over the years.

Are there still detainees in Guantanamo Bay? Two decades of detention operations Over the years, some 780 men were detained there. About 540 were released during the Bush administration, about 200 during the Obama administration and one during the Trump administration, reducing the total inmate population to the current 35.

Has anyone escaped Guantanamo Bay?

Answers and Explanations: Yes, people have escaped from the Guantanamo Bay naval base. Though this escape occurred before the base housing the prison, which was established in 2002, and since the prison’s establishment there have been no escapees.

What happened to all the detainees in Guantanamo Bay?

All but 35 of the estimated 780 detainees were transferred to other countries through repatriation and resettlement deals negotiated by the Bush and Obama administrations, including nine who died in military custody.

Has anyone made it out of Guantanamo Bay?

Currently, 39 men remain in detention indefinitely there, and 27 of them have never been charged with any crime. Fourteen of the 27 have been released for transfer or release, some over the years.

Who is being released from Guantanamo Bay?

The oldest detainee at Guantánamo Bay was released to Pakistan Saifullah Paracha, 75, was held in a US facility for 18 years without ever being charged.

Who is left at Guantanamo Bay?

As of October 29, 2022, 35 detainees are still at Guantanamo Bay. This list of Guantánamo detainees bears the known identities of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, but was compiled from multiple sources and is not exhaustive.

Are there still prisoners at Guantanamo Bay?

Over the years, some 780 men were detained there. About 540 were released during the Bush administration, about 200 during the Obama administration and one during the Trump administration, reducing the total inmate population to the current 35.