Britons’ views of Qatar remain very negative following 2022 World Cup

Peter RavenData Journalist
January 16, 2023, 9:49 AM GMT+0

Opinion of FIFA is now even more negative following their handling of the tournament

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar was mired in controversy before a ball had even been kicked. The country’s human rights record, treatment of migrant workers and position towards the LGBT community dominated headlines. But on the field the tournament provided football fans with arguably the greatest final of all time as Argentina’s Lionel Messi finally got his hands on the trophy.

Now, a YouGov Political Research survey has revealed that the World Cup has done little to improve Britons’ opinions of the host nation. A month before the opening fixture, two-thirds of Britons (67%) had a negative view of Qatar, a figure which rose to 72% after the tournament had finished. Only 12% of Britons have a positive view of Qatar, about the same as before the World Cup (9%).

Among football fans, however, attitudes towards Qatar have improved somewhat. While fans were more likely to have an unfavourable opinion of Qatar than the wider population before the start of the World Cup (78%), this figure has since fallen slightly to 72%. Nevertheless, few football fans have a positive view of the gulf state (18%, up from 8%).

Before the tournament, 18% of the general public said it was acceptable for Qatar to host international sporting events, that figure rising marginally to 22% following the country’s handling of the World Cup. Among football fans, the number who think it’s acceptable for Qatar to host such events increased from 17% pre-World Cup to 29% after the competition finished.

For both football fans and the wider population, there is still a majority (60% in both cases) who think it is unacceptable for Qatar to host sporting events such as the World Cup.

FIFA’s reputation among Britons is worse now than it was before the World Cup

Tournament organisers FIFA threatened to book any players who planned to wear the OneLove armband to promote diversity and inclusion.

Two-thirds of Britons (65%) have an unfavourable view of FIFA since the tournament ended, down slightly from 69% following the OneLove armband row on 21-22 November, but higher than the pre-tournament figure of 54%.

Three-quarters of football fans (73%) now have a negative opinion of football’s governing body. While this is lower than the 79% who said they had an unfavourable opinion of FIFA following the early-tournament threat of sporting sanctions for those teams wearing the rainbow armband, it is still significantly higher than the 62% it was pre-tournament.

OneLove hit proves to be a blip for the FA

Closer to home, while the FA’s reputation among English people took a knock over the OneLove armband incident, their reputation has since bounced back. Prior to the competition, 30% said they had a favourable view of the FA and 35% an unfavourable one. After the FA announced that England players would not be wearing the rainbow armband, those with a positive view of the organisation fell to 27% and the number with a negative view increased to 43%. However, numbers have now returned to pre-Qatar 2022 levels with the FA seen favourably by 33% and unfavourably by 38%.

Football fans in England have a higher opinion of the FA with 60% holding a favourable view of the organisation both before and after the World Cup, although this number did fall to 50% in the fallout from the OneLove armband row. The number with an unfavourable opinion has fallen since the same incident from 39% to 33%.

Opinion towards the England team, Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane is now even more positive

English people’s opinion towards the England team is even higher post-tournament than it was at the time of our mid-tournament survey (on 21-22 November, shortly after the England-Iran game). The proportion of those with a favourable view of the Three Lions has increased from 56% to 63%.

Similarly, both Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane have also seen opinions towards them improve during the World Cup. Those with a favourable view towards the England manager have risen from 56% to 63% while his captain has seen positive opinion towards him increase from 54% to 60%. (There are no pre-tournament comparison figures for the England team, Gareth Southgate or Harry Kane).

English football fans, too, are even more behind their team following their efforts in Qatar. In our group-stage poll, 83% of fans said they had a favourable opinion of the men’s national side, this figure rising to 87% in our post-tournament survey.

Fans’ opinions of both the team’s manager and captain also remain high with eight in ten having a favourable opinion of Southgate (81%) and Kane (80%) since the World Cup finished.