4,000: A Rhetorical Analysis of FIFA’s Media Response to Human Rights Abuses in Preparation for the 2022 World Cup

Jason Dodson

CST 533: Organizational Communication Capstone Project


On September 25, 2013 The Guardian released a report that alleged human rights abuses at the construction sites for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Further investigation from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has estimated that over 4,000 migrant workers will die before a soccer ball is kicked in 2022. Subsequent reports claim that the abuses and deaths have continued since the initial Guardian report. Despite these reports, as of December 2014, the 2022 FIFA World Cup will still take place as planned. Using rhetorical analysis based on Michel Foucault’s method of genealogy, this research analyzes how FIFA uses rhetoric in the media to maintain organizational power in the face of these human rights abuse allegations. The findings indicate that FIFA’s use of contradictory rhetoric and distancing rhetoric regarding their responsibility towards the workers’ rights problems helps to establish and maintain a favorable subjective truth about FIFA’s role the situation. Inoculation theory is applied to further explain how this sort of rhetoric helps FIFA to maintain power and remain inactive on the human rights issue.