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NEW YORK (July 28, 2023) — Coinciding with the start of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) has recently published the Arabic edition of its 2022 report, “Qatar’s Human Rights Record in the World’s Spotlight: White Paper with Policy Recommendations.”

In stark contrast to Australia and New Zealand, the democratic nations hosting this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, Qatar, which hosted the 2022 FIFA World Cup, is ruled by a monarchic authoritarian regime. Following the 2010 announcement that Qatar would host the global tournament, its appalling human rights record was on display for the international community to critique.

HRF condemned the Qatari regime’s investment of hundreds of billions of dollars into the World Cup, considering it as a strategic, opportunistic move of “sportswashing” — a tactic frequently employed by other wealthy authoritarian Gulf States like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Sportswashing capitalizes on the popularity of sports to distract the international community from human rights violations, allowing authoritarian regimes to put forth a positive image and increase global influence.

As the FIFA competition began last year in Doha, Qatar’s capital, HRF published an English-language report on Qatar’s appalling human rights record. This report highlighted the regime’s most severe human rights violations and provided policy recommendations for reform within Qatar and action points for the global community. To coincide with the women’s iteration of the FIFA tournament and build on the momentum of the English version of the report, HRF has published the report in Arabic.

Correspondingly, the Arabic edition of the report addresses the stringent restrictions on free expression in Qatar, which enables wrongful imprisonment, arbitrary travel bans, and summary deportation of government critics. Furthermore, it highlights violations of women’s and LGBTQI+ persons rights and the male guardianship system, which requires a woman’s husband or father’s approval to exercise basic rights.

As the FIFA Women’s World Cup takes the international stage, HRF’s Arabic edition of the report serves as a reminder of the dangers of sportswashing and the urgent need for democratic reform within Qatar.

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

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