The wives and girlfriends of England footballers were met by an expert to teach them about the dangers that they might face in Qatar such as online hacking. The Gulf state also limits access to selected websites.
The world is waiting and watching to see how the World Cup will play out in Qatar, with many keeping a close eye on the state’s restrictive laws and limitations that do not exist in countries where the state will host the world cup.
Ahead of the World Cup, some countries are taking their time to teach their players, supporters, and even wives and girlfriends to what they can expect when they go to Qatar.
One recent example is the meeting that was held for wives and girlfriends of England’s squad for the World Cup. The wives and girlfriends were debriefed on cyber security issues that they need to be aware of before going to Qatar.
An expert on cyber security met with the group to explain to them the danger of online hacking that they might face in the Gulf state.
They were also told about how selected websites are blocked from user access in the region and how anyone believed to be facilitating the spread of “fake news” can be arrested and imprisoned in the Gulf state.
An inside source who talked about the briefing session said: “It was a long, detailed session. But it was not all about hotels and restaurants. It was much more about support from the FA and tips on culture, and the importance of online security.”
“The online warnings made up a big part of it. There were also some genuine concerns about hacking,” the source said.
Some wives and girlfriends that are expected to travel with England’s national team include the 26-year-old Megan Davison wife to the team’s goalkeeper Jordan Pickford along with their three-year-old son Arlo, and Jack Grealish’s 25-year-old girlfriend, Sasha Attwood.
Anouska Santos Luke Shaw’s partner may also likely join the group in Qatar along with their two children.
England’s squad will likely go with the biggest entourage to the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East. The entourage will likely be made up of family members. The games are expected to start on November 20.
Qatar has been encouraging fans and family members to join their teams in the Gulf state highlighting the easy access to the newly built stadiums where the games will be held. Berthold Trenkel Qatar’s Chief Operating Officer for Tourism has promised that fans will have “an amazing experience” and recommended families to come along.
When explaining the ease of access to the stadiums he said “The closest is four to five kilometers away, from each other, a short walk. Temperatures will be brilliant because it is winter.”
While the tourism industry is selling the stadiums and Qatar as a whole to the world, the Gulf state has come under heavy criticism over human rights violations, prejudice against the LGBT community, the treatment of migrant workers who were part of the building projects ahead of the games and its restrictive laws. Such laws include restriction of public display of affection, taking photographs of certain government buildings, and heavy drinking.
The Gulf state has heavy fines for people found drunk in public so international football fans will have to be wary of where and how drunk they get to avoid heavy fines or imprisonment that usually follows in normal circumstances in the region. Sneaking heavy drinks into the stadiums may also likely land people in trouble with the law.
Dressing for the games should also be considered even for those in the fan zones. While certain things may be overlooked, fans can get a warning for certain behaviors but everyone must try to be on alert to follow codes of dressing depending on where they are. Taking off shirts to celebrate or for any other reason is advised against.
Ahead of the games, Qatar has placed nearly 15,000 facial recognition cameras for monitoring and security reasons. The cameras have been placed across fan zones, stadiums, and public areas so many people will find themselves under heavy surveillance.
Online activity will likely be monitored between people sending messages inside the state or outside the region. So everyone including the squad and their entourage must be careful with their online activity.
While some critics have called for the games to be called off to show solidarity with migrant workers who have been mistreated despite their hard work, others have focussed on what the game means and how people can simply just focus on that and not the restrictions or mistreatment of people.
One such person is Gareth Southgate who has been criticized over his comments about workers in Qatar ahead of the world cup. England’s manager said that the workers in Qatar “want the football to come to Qatar because they love the sport.” The England boss said that while they are human rights concerns “in the end, the football is everything. It’s why we’re there, it’s what we’re there to do.”
His remarks clash with what human rights groups such as Amnesty International have said about the state of things in the region and the workers. The group said that migrant workers in the region are less concerned about football but more about having their rights “fully protected.”
“Many workers in Qatar will of course be football fans, but what migrant workers have stressed to us is the need to have their rights fully protected, to be paid properly, able to change jobs freely, and to enjoy safe and dignified working conditions- before, during and after this tournament,” said Ella Knight Amnesty International’s migrants’ labor rights researcher.
These migrant workers have been working on building new metro and roads, a new airport as well as seven stadiums that will be used for the finals.