Qatar and the World Cup (part one)
For better or worse, the country has gotten heavily involved in soccer. Now as they prepare to host the World Cup, it's time we really take a glance at who they are.
(Reading time: 4 minutes)
Whenever you are watching any soccer match in Europe, or any preseason training video, or any (recent) World Cup predictions, it doesn’t take long before Qatar pops up in one way or another. Usually, it has the logo of the upcoming tournament, contested in the Fall for the first time ever. Maybe it is tagged with a little map pin that says Qatar. Maybe it’s the ultra-modern skyline of Doha, the area where all the games will be played. Or it may be Qatar Airways, who are all over the soccer world as a sponsor.
The fact is, Qatar and the entire Middle East in general is forever going to be linked to soccer. That derives from the Saudi government taking control of Newcastle United (and turning it around completely) or Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain both being owned by billionaires from the area. The Saudis, Qatari, and many others have heavily invested in soccer since the latter country was awarded the rights to the 2022 FIFA World Cup twelve years ago.
In a way, the coming of the World Cup to the Middle East was for the better. Now, the World Cup has visited almost every geopolitical state. That is what these international sporting bodies pride themselves on: world unity for a month or two, everyone regardless of race or ethnic group glued to their TVs for the World Cup.
The event also signified the rise of the Middle East. They have always been wealthy people, sitting on tons of oil (Elon Musk is coming for them quick) and other tools that get cars going and get planes flying, all resulting in money and power. The Middle East is more of a geopolitical state than a continent, as it is in a continent, and the politics of it have been protested in recent years.
But when the World Cup was announced to be heading to Qatar, people believed that the small country could turn around.
For some reasons, they were right. For others, they were horribly wrong.
The World Cup, or the Olympics, or any sporting event is a great excuse for a country to get itself in shape. That did indeed happen. An entire new highway and transit system as well as buildings were constructed, along with eight (yes, eight) brand new stadiums that were used for events like the Club World Cup and the Arab Cup, both FIFA-organised events. The new infrastructure brought a whole new way to move around, and a much better, more efficient system.
However, building new buildings is labour, and you need a lot of workers to accomplish this.
Here is where everything spiralled.
Qatar as is didn’t have a glamorous human rights record (then again, neither does China, who just hosted the Olympics, which is another display of incompetency) and that was heavily reported on in the build-up. Next, reports of human rights violations toward the foreign workers who were helping build the stadiums in Qatar started popping up. All of a sudden, these shiny, new, sustainable (yes, look up “Qatar movable stadium”) toys had a load of dirt dumped on them by the way of treating people well.
But that may only be the better part, because allegedly (however is does seem to be getting closer to fact) Qatar bought the World Cup. Meaning, in the bid to host the 2022 World Cup (others coming from Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the USA) was fixed so Qatar would win the rights to the tournament. Or you could just say that Qatar bought votes. That works too.
It doesn’t seem like the situation and the scandal is going to get any better. The fact is, you can’t erase a human rights record and it’s hard to polish up this reputation just a few months away from the kickoff.
Once the games begin, we’ll see how the broadcasts are operated. If you speak out against the government, jail. If you express any type of opinion about life of Qatari or anything about human rights, jail. If you say don’t like the stadiums, maybe jail. I’m not sure on that one.
This rivals Euro 2012 as the most debated soccer tournament for non-soccer reasons ever. Maybe even more since it’s on the world stage, with the bright lights of Doha illuminating the pavilion.
But there’s more dark than light in this play.
(Part two will focus on the mixed emotions coming from England about this World Cup)