As the World Cup winners lift the golden trophy on Sunday evening, an alternative to the ultimate footballing achievement will highlight alleged corruption and reported human rights violations that have been a feature of the 2022 tournament hosted by Qatar.
A Russian-born conceptual artist has created a replica of the World Cup trophy that slowly fills with crude oil. It has a symbolic price of $150m – a figure that matches the amount of money allegedly spent on bribes and kickbacks to Fifa officials, according to US criminal investigators in 2015.
The artwork, Fifa World Cup Filled With Qatari Oil (The Dirtiest Cup), is also a reflection on the deaths of thousands of migrant workers who have reportedly died since Qatar was awarded the tournament in 2010.
Andrei Molodkin, who created the work in collaboration with the Spanish football publication Revista Libero, said: “I work with negative forms and fill them with political material to show the reality of the situation. Here you have the Fifa World Cup, glowing gold from the residue of Qatari oil. The corruption at the centre of this game becomes inseparable from the riches of the host nation.”
The artwork will be on show at a/political in London on Sunday, the day of the final between Argentina and France. An augmented reality version of the artwork will also be available on Sunday at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar, where the final will be played.
Last weekend, a Kenyan security guard fell to his death from the eighth story of the stadium. The tournament’s organisers said the circumstances of his fall would be investigated.
Molodkin said there had been a “systematic process of labour rights violations” in Qatar. “Thousands of workers have been exploited, some subjected to forced labour. Their passports have been taken away from them, their living conditions are appalling, their salaries are low, and payments are delayed or disappeared.
“Since Qatar won the bid for the 2022 World Cup, over 6,500 workers have died,” he said.
Although the price tag put on the artwork was symbolic, funds from its sale would be used to support the families of workers who had died, he added.
Earlier this year, Molodkin created a portrait of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, using blood donated by Ukrainian soldiers.
The war in Ukraine had brought back the “psychological trauma” of his military service in the Soviet army. “I know the smell of the gun and the tank,” he said.
Fifa World Cup Filled With Qatari Oil (The Dirtiest Cup) will be on display at a/political, the Bacon Factory, 6 Stannary St, Kennington SE11 4AA, 11am-6pm on Sunday
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