World Cup 2022: Sports fans swallow host country Qatar’s human rights record


It was not without controversy that Qatar was chosen as the host of the 2022 World Cup.

The country has been accused of human rights abuses, including recently offering low wages and dangerous working conditions to migrant workers who built the stadiums and infrastructure needed to host the games. When asked if such knowledge had diminished their interest in the event, 63% of sports enthusiasts and 51% of sports fans said yes, with only 25% of enthusiasts and 28% of sports fans answered no.

Among the general US population, 41% say interest is lower because the World Cup is in Qatar (30% said interest is not lower, perhaps reflecting in a way the fact that this year the United States Men’s National Team is back in the competition. ).

These are the results of a Seton Hall Sports Poll conducted last month among 1,514 adults across the country. The poll presents a nationally representative sample weighted on US Census Bureau figures for gender, age, ethnicity, education, income and geography and has a margin of error of +/- 3, 2%.

Ethical FIFA?

FIFA is the global governing body responsible for the World Cup tournament. Respondents were asked if they think FIFA is an ethics-focused organisation. Among avid fans, 48% said yes (33% no), among sports fans, 32% said yes (35% no), and among the general population, 22% said yes (34% no). The others said they didn’t know or had no opinion.

“While these numbers show the perception among Americans that FIFA is an ethical organization, I expect these numbers to change as we get closer to the tournament.” said Daniel Ladik, a Seton Hall marketing professor and polling methodologist. “The increased interest will lead to increased scrutiny and we in the United States will start to see some of the stories challenging the ethics of FIFA and the choice of Qatar as the venue for this year’s World Cup. .”

“As the world’s governing body for sport, FIFA continues to fail its fanbase with demonstrated, unethical and corrupt leadership,” said Professor Charles Grantham, director of the Center for Sport Management at the FIFA. Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall, which is sponsoring the survey. “Over time, this will affect the integrity of the tournament.”

Interest is surging in the United States

With the United States men’s soccer team having qualified to compete in the 2022 World Cup for the first time in eight years, interest in the international tournament has seen a notable jump among American fans. Today, when asked if they plan to watch, 39% of sports fans, 58% of avid fans, and 25% of the general population said they do.

Before the US national team qualified, those numbers were lower. Asked about viewing plans in March ahead of the US qualifiers, 34% of sports fans, 49% of avid fans and 21% of the general population expressed interest in watching the 2022 World Cup. With just eight weeks between polls are significant increases in interest. The March poll took place from March 11-14. The United States qualified on March 30; The 2022 World Cup matches will start on November 21.

Of course, football isn’t America’s number one sport, as it is in most countries around the world, and there are still many who have no intention of watching – 65% of the general population, 56% of sports fans and 45% of enthusiasts. fans said “no” to “are you going to watch?”

15% increase in interest from sports enthusiasts

Chronologically, we can deduce that the increase in interest in the United States corresponds to the inclusion of the United States Men’s National Team. The level of interest has also increased. When asked specifically if the inclusion of an American team made a person more interested in watching, 63% of avid fans, 46% of sports fans, and 30% of the general public agreed. When asked in March (before qualifying) if the presence of an American team would make them more interested, 48% of passionate fans, 34% of sports fans and 21% of the general public said yes. Actual qualification corresponds to an increase in avid fan interest of 15%, 12% for fans and 9% for the general public.

Canada and Mexico?

The American public clearly has strong support for the American team, but there is also support for neighboring countries. Among avid fans, 70% say they will support the United States, with 9% indicating Mexico and 8% indicating Canada. Among sports fans, it’s 62% in the United States, 8% in Mexico and 5% in Canada, and among the general population, it’s 48% in the United States, 6% in Mexico and 4% in Canada.


The potential presence of a team representing Ukraine also has people interested in the Cup. When asked if they would be more interested in watching because Ukraine is playing, 57% of passionate fans said yes (33% no), 40% of sports fans said yes (also 40% no) and 28% of the general population (43% no).

Growing popularity, football participation in the United States

The relative popularity of soccer in the United States can be attributed to participation in the sport. While 27% of the general population said they had played football in a team or league, 47% of those with children said their children had played.

Q6a. Including your childhood, have you ever played soccer in a team or league (recreational or competitive)?

Lifetime participation in football
N=1,514 General population sports fan Not a fan passionate fan Occasional fan
Yes 27% 37% 14% 54% 27%
Nope 61% 55% 69% 41% 64%
Don’t know/No opinion 12% 8% 17% 5% 9%

Q6b. If you have children, have they played soccer in a team or league (recreational or competitive)?

Participation in children’s football
N=398 General population sports fan Not a fan passionate fan Occasional fan
Yes 47% 57% 21% 62% 52%
Nope 45% 38% 60% 36% 41%
Don’t know/No opinion 8% 5% 19% 2% seven%

Paid subscriptions to watch among football fans

Of those who describe themselves as fans of the beautiful game, 50% say they subscribe to one or more media services in order to watch premium football – this number rises to 71% for passionate fans.

Do you subscribe to any streaming or cable services that require additional payment in order to watch football? e.g. ESPN+ for Bundesliga, Peacock for English Premier League, Paramount+ for UEFA Champions League and NWSL, etc.

Paid subscriptions to watch football
N=730 General population sports fan Not a fan passionate fan Occasional fan
Yes 42% 50% 14% 71% 33%
Nope 50% 43% 75% 26% 58%
Don’t know/No opinion 8% seven% 11% 3% 9%

Questions with graphic breakdowns are available in an online version of this release at


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