Nearly one in three Americans say the U.S. should boycott the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
November 17, 2022, 1:14 PM GMT+0

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is scheduled to begin this weekend — and most Americans don't seem to care much. Just one-quarter of Americans say they're somewhat or very interested in the tournament and just one in three Americans expect to tune in for at least a few matches, according to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll; most say they won't be watching any of the preeminent international men's soccer competition, which is held every four years. Perhaps one reason is that few have high expectations for the U.S. team's performance: Just 12% believe the men's national team will win the tournament while 14% believe they'll reach the final and lose.

The decision to host the World Cup in Qatar, a country with a history of human rights abuses, has been a contentious one. By 36% to 23%, Americans say it was more wrong than right for FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, to decide to host the World Cup in Qatar. Nonetheless, just 29% believe the U.S. should boycott the upcoming tournament, even though more — 38% — say the U.S. should generally boycott major sporting events hosted in countries with bad records on human rights or democracy. This gap may indicate that not all Americans see Qatar's record on human rights as "poor."

Americans have mixed views when it comes to the U.S.'s relationship with Qatar: 28% say the World Cup host is friendly to the U.S. or an ally, while 25% say it's unfriendly or an enemy. Half of Americans (47%) are not sure.

While few believe the U.S. should boycott the 2022 World Cup, nearly half of Americans (46%) believe a country's records on human rights and democracy should be a major factor or the most important factor in deciding whether to hold major international sporting events there. Just 14% say these things shouldn't be considered at all or should be a minor factor.

Americans are more split in their views on whether to allow countries with poor records on human rights and democracy to compete in international sporting events: 32% say they should be allowed and 35% say they should not be. The share who approve of Russia's national team being banned from the World Cup this year is even higher than the 35% who say that such countries generally shouldn't be allowed: 57% approve of banning Russia and 21% disapprove.

– Carl Bialik contributed to this article

Polling by the Economist/YouGov was conducted on November 13 - 15, 2022 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this Economist/YouGov poll.

Image: Adobe Stock (efks)