Oct 21

Fast Fashion X World Cup: A Collab Nobody Asked For

by Florenne Earle Ledger


We didn’t think we’d ever be writing about football on Whering; it’s not really our forté - but we had to step in when we realised social injustice and fast fashion stepped onto the pitch.

Football fan or not, it's unlikely you would have missed everybody talking about the corrupt and unjust context behind the World Cup this year. Before we explain how fast fashion is involved in this whole mess (to put it lightly), we need to provide an outline of other serious issues at hand for those that don’t know.

Social Injustice in The World Cup

  1. Exploitation of Migrant workers

    Since receiving the right to host the world cup in 2010, over 6,000 migrant workers have died (an average of 12 per week) due to the mass scale of Qatar’s building plans. The plans included seven new stadiums, hotels, roads and public transport, a whole new city for visitors to come and watch the game in person.
  2. LGBTQ+ Laws

    It’s illegal to be gay in Qatar, meaning LGBTQ+ football fans are left feeling torn between a game they love and supporting a country that ignores their basic human rights. Footballers were going to wear armbands to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community until referees announced there would be a yellow card penalty for any player wearing one.
  3. Unfulfilled Pledges

    Qatar has not fulfilled the pledges they made when it won the right to host the world cup. The whole thing was off to a bad start before it even began.

So, that’s a very brief summary of the monstrosity going on at the moment, but there are plenty more articles online detailing the awful reality of what minority groups have been put through at the expense of the World Cup. But where does fast fashion come in?

Where does Fast fashion Come in?

With the world slowly waking up to the fact that fast fashion is costing our planet, call us optimistic, but a small part of us hoped that Nike (the kit manufacturers) might take this as an opportunity to make the kit ethically. It would have been a good way to try and offset the exploitative nature of the 2022 World Cup so far. Instead, The Daily Mirror reported the football kit is made entirely from polyester (the cheapest and least sustainable fabric there is: yay). Going by Qatar’s track record of mass-scale production in as little time as possible at the expense of poorly paid workers, it’s no surprise that garment workers are overworked and underpaid.

It’s reported that garment workers are making £8.30 a day, paid just £1 an hour for their efforts. For a whole day's work, these people are receiving less than the minimum hourly rate for an adult in the UK. What makes this even more angering is that the football shirts are being sold for £115 when personalised, £75 for a normal World Cup shirt and £60 for a Junior size. The garment workers are only receiving £1.50 per top sewn. It’s an embarrassingly small amount. There is so much money in the World Cup it’s ridiculous that they can’t pay those who create their clothing (which brings in advertising revenue and allows the event to be remembered) a proper wage.

The choice of polyester as the shirt's material is disappointing. There’s no denying there is enough budget to avoid using the cheapest fabric possible (in a dream world where profits aren’t the priority), and don’t even get us started on the abundance of sustainable fabrics that could be reworked and upcycled. But alas, polyester was the chosen one. Forest Green Rovers, a small football club outside Bristol, have made their kit from 50% bamboo to reduce the amount of plastic they use in production. The players are all vegan, making it the only vegan football club in the world . They also make an effort to reduce emissions when travelling, demonstrating when you put in the effort, it is possible to make sustainable choices when it comes to football. If smaller clubs with less money can do it, the World Cup definitely can.

To quote Dua Lipa, we ‘look forward to visiting Qatar when it has fulfilled all the human rights pledges it made when it won the right to host the World Cup’; until then, consider us most definitely boycotting Qatar’s world cup this year.

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