When I first saw articles about this event, I thought it was some kind of satire or click-bait headline, but unfortunately, its not. Al Saad Sports Club, the Qatari Club that Xavi is rumored to be signing for, organized a “mega marathon” in which they wanted 50,000 people to run in order to break the Guinness World Record . According to Doha News, only a few thousand people signed up, so the Qatari club turned to migrant workers and allegedly forced them to participate, raising the announced attendance to 33,000 people . ArabianBusiness.com quoted a participant as saying “The worst part of all was that there was a large mass of labourers wearing jeans, flip-flops and no proper running equipment . Some labourers tried to leave but were turned back and were yelled at that they need to stay and cross the line” . According to Doha News, a representative of the Mega Marathon stated that the organizers gave out shoes and running attire to every participant; however, many did not want to wear it . That statement, at least to me, seems laughable. Despite the 84 degree weather, as the race started at 2 PM, race organizers were also instructed to stop giving out water to the runners . This story is incredibly unbelievable.
While the above raises even more human rights violations and lack of common sense, the organization of the marathon also raises questions about the organization of the 2022 World Cup. According to the Doha News, runners raised safety concerns as the police roadblocks for the course were removed when many runners were still participating in the race . Also, according to participants, the free bussing system to the race was organized incredibly poorly and there were many transportation glitches to and from the megamarathon. This is not the first time that Qatar has hosted a sizable event and received much criticism. In January 2014, PSG and Real Madrid played a friendly in front of 39,710, and many fans complained about the lack of organization and in-stadium stewards . Fans also complained of chaos outside the stadium in which fans jumped over fences and turnstiles. If Qatar is unable to handle the organization of events in the 30,000-40,000 people range, its unlikely that the 2022 World Cup will be a logistical success.
Thumbnail from Al-Saad Sports Club