London Daily

Focus on the big picture.
Sunday, Feb 05, 2023

How Qatar won the World Cup

How Qatar won the World Cup

Despite more than a decade of critical coverage, the Gulf country has emerged stronger than ever after an unrivaled nation-building project.

It doesn’t matter whether Brazil or Argentina or someone else lifts the trophy next month, Qatar has already won the World Cup.

Despite more than a decade of critical coverage — which at first zeroed in on the bribery and corruption embedded in the bidding process, and then highlighted Qatar’s regressive labor and human rights laws — the Gulf petro-monarchy has emerged stronger than ever after an unrivaled nation-building project.

The World Cup, which starts Sunday, has helped accelerate Qatar’s development, supercharging the construction of high-end stadiums, gleaming shopping malls, five-star hotels and a world-class airport — and enabled it to wield both geopolitical and sporting influence.

And, no matter the human rights backlash, the tournament has some of the West’s most senior politicians onside.

Emmanuel Macron on Thursday joined the chorus of politicians asking people to go easy on Qatar, saying that “sport shouldn’t be politicized.” The French president was echoing a much-criticized FIFA letter earlier this month, in which President Gianni Infantino told World Cup teams to stick to football and avoid dishing out morality lessons.

Far from being a diplomatic repellent, the controversial World Cup will instead welcome numerous senior Western officials. As first reported by POLITICO, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will attend the U.S. vs. Wales match on Monday. Belgium’s Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib will be there to support the Red Devils. Her British counterpart James Cleverly is also going to Doha.

Qatar has long been under fire for its brutal use of migrant laborers; its attitude toward LGBTQ+ rights; and potential state surveillance of fans. Externally, it was hammered by a yearslong blockade by its Gulf neighbors, led by Saudi Arabia and implicitly endorsed by then-U.S. President Donald Trump.

But Qatar has seen off both critics and enemies thanks to its diplomatic dexterity, the leverage created by its vast hydrocarbon resources — and its willingness to splash the cash.

“Qatar decided it was going to learn to drive in the fast lane of a motorway,” said Simon Chadwick, professor of sport and geopolitical economy at Skema Business School in Paris, of the World Cup bid. “But Qatar had the money to be able to learn to drive.”

***

Some of the criticism — which continues unabated on the eve of the tournament — did hit home. And, in at least one case, sparked change.

The kafala system, a sponsorship-based employment mechanism first introduced by the British to Bahrain in the 1930s, was ended by law in Qatar in 2020. In theory, this allows workers in Qatar to change jobs without needing to obtain their employers’ permission. At the same time, Doha also legislated a minimum-wage increase to 1,000 rials per month — or around €264.

Watchdogs, however, point out that Qatar’s “toxic” labor problems — which have resulted in the abuse and death of scores of South Asian migrant workers — didn’t end with the abolition of kafala.


Men making traditional fences ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

“I think there’s a big persuasive argument to say that the system facilitates slavery or forced labor,” said Nicholas McGeehan, founding director of FairSquare Research and Projects, whose work has focused extensively on human rights in the Gulf.

“There are other things that help control workers,” McGeehan added. “You have severe amounts of debt, systematic passport confiscation, the absence of trade unions, the absence of civil society, and the absence of any access to justice or good health [care].”

“When you put all these things together, they’re very toxic, and they facilitate almost complete control over the migrant workforce,” McGeehan said.

Estimates vary, as the Qatari government doesn’t share official data on migrant worker deaths, but hundreds of Nepalis have died in the Gulf state of cardiac arrest, workplace accidents and suicide since 2010, according to its government statistics. Meanwhile, Doha’s new labor heat laws offer “terrible protection” from the sweltering temperatures, McGeehan said.

Still, there is some backing for Qatar’s reforms. Marc Tarabella, a Belgian socialist MEP who is vice chair of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with the Arab Peninsula and also co-chair of the Sports Group, told POLITICO that, thanks to the World Cup, Qatar has become “a good example to follow for the other countries in the neighborhood.”

And Qatar in recent months has become increasingly belligerent about defending itself to the West, after years of taking shots on the chin.

The country’s labor minister on Monday told European Parliament lawmakers that Qatar had been subject to a “smear campaign.” The World Cup’s own top official said that criticism of Qatar was “possibly” racially motivated.

Paris Saint-Germain President Nasser al-Khelaifi, who isn’t connected to the World Cup organizing team but is European sports’ most high-profile Qatari, was more circumspect, telling POLITICO that he is “very proud” his country is hosting the World Cup and isn’t “trying to hide” in the shadows.

“Are we doing everything 100 percent right? Maybe not. Are we perfect? No. But we are correcting things,” he said. “The World Cup has done a fantastic job for Qatar: infrastructure, regulation. A lot of things changed; massive things.”

***



Perhaps the only thing that can now truly disrupt Qatar’s crowning achievement is a shambolic tournament from both human rights and logistical perspectives.

That’s something detractors see as a clear possibility.

LGBTQ+ fans who will attend the tournament still run the risk of falling foul of Qatar’s prohibition on homosexuality. The assurances that human rights groups have received from FIFA, crucially unaccompanied by Qatari legislation on LGBTQ+ protections, are insufficient, said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch.

Alexander Hassenstein


Escalating those human rights concerns, a Qatari World Cup ambassador told German broadcaster ZDF that homosexuality was “damage in the mind,” in comments that sparked a backlash earlier this month.

Organizational questions also remain just before the tournament starts with Ecuador vs. Qatar on Sunday, with tens of thousands of fans descending on the tiny country.

Ronan Evain, executive director of Football Supporters Europe, told POLITICO that he was concerned about the training of World Cup stewards, the police approach to supporters, and the logistics of shuttling fans to and from stadiums by bus.

While Qatar — a country where the car is king — touts the public transport developments expedited by the World Cup, only some of the stadiums are connected by the sparkling new metro system.

A last-minute U-turn on beer by the Qatari hosts, now banned in and around tournament stadiums, triggered more anxiety for human rights groups, given the previous assurances on alcohol consumption provided by Qatar.

And more than a decade after Qatar actually won the rights to host the tournament, investigations rumble on into the corruption that bedeviled the process and resulted in the FBI knocking in FIFA’s doors. French prosecutors are probing the alleged role of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in helping Qatar win the bid, French daily Le Monde reported earlier this week. Qatar has always denied that it won the bid by nefarious means.

On the activists’ LGBTQ+ concerns, a spokesperson for FIFA said the governing body was “confident that all necessary measures will be in place for LGBTIQ+ fans and allies to enjoy the tournament in a welcoming and safe environment, just as for everyone else.”

In a statement, Qatar’s World Cup Supreme Committee said it “is committed to delivering an inclusive and discrimination-free FIFA World Cup experience that is welcoming, safe and accessible to all participants, attendees and communities in Qatar and around the world.”

***



But what happens when the circus leaves town?

Qatar has shown remarkable geopolitical deftness to keep sweet the competing interests with which its fortunes are interlinked. It hosts the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East, while also sharing access with Iran to the gas field which generated its astronomical wealth.

Due to the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine, “Qatar will remain extremely relevant in terms of energy dynamics, especially as gas begins to come on stream,” said Kristian Ulrichsen, fellow for the Middle East at Rice University’s Baker Institute. “I think they’ll continue to play a role in regional diplomacy, especially vis-a-vis Iran if there’s no nuclear negotiation breakthrough.” Doha was a key diplomatic player when the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021, Ulrichsen added.

One of Qatar’s most successful exports, media conglomerate beIN Media Group, renowned for its international sports broadcasting arm but also the owner of Hollywood’s Miramax film studios, has been approached by various U.S. and Saudi investors interested in buying a stake in the company — as the state mulls how to position itself on the international stage once the World Cup has been and gone.

At the same time, a person familiar with the talks said U.S. investors are interested in buying a stake in PSG, which is wholly owned by Qatar Sports Investments. QSI acquired a 22 percent stake in Portugal’s SC Braga last month, which was the investment fund’s first step into multi-club ownership and a further sign of the increased significance of QSI and beIN for Qatar post-World Cup.

“I don’t think they will give up on sport being a component of the nation’s strategy,” said Mahfoud Amara, associate professor of sport management at Qatar University.

Qatar will host football’s Asian Cup in 2023 and the multi-sport Asian Games in 2030. Officials are currently also in preliminary discussions about a bid for another crown jewel event: The 2036 Summer Olympics.

Newsletter

Related Articles

London Daily
Close
0:00
0:00
Turkish photographer Ugur Gallenkus portrays two different worlds within a single image. Brilliant work
You're Beautiful - James Blunt (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Tennessee Bill Would Imprison People for 3 Years If They 'Lie' About Rape to Get an Abortion.
You Are So Beautiful
Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
Postmodern Jukebox European Tour Version
Shell reports highest profits in 115 years
An old French tune (by Georges Brassens) Pomplamoose ft. John Schroeder
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
Sattahip Motor Show 20
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
SONATE AU CLAIR DE LUNE - Moonlight sonata
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
A kiss to build a dream on
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Wiz Khalifa - See You Again ft. Charlie Puth, Furious
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
What is ChatGPT?
Mean Blues
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
La Chansonnette
China is opening up for foreign investors.
Pattaya Addicts
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Franz Liszt - Liebestraum - Love Dream
Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks
Dream a little dream of me
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Tu Vuo' Fa' L'Americano - Hetty & the Jazzato Band
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Unchained Melody sung like you've NEVER heard!
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Dave Brubeck - Take Five
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Édith Piaf - Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (Sofie)
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
Rondo Alla Turca
China's first population drop in six decades
Kiss of fire
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Ed Sheeran - Perfect (Amadeus violin cover instrumental)
Israelis rally in three cities against Netanyahu legal reforms
Tom Jones - I´ll Never Fall In Love Again 1967, 1989, 2001
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
Israel Cachao López - Guajira Clásica
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
Edward Maya - Stereo Love (feat. Vika Jigulina) (Extended Mix)
Japan prosecutors indict man for ex-PM Shinzo Abe murder
Strauss - Radetzky March - Karajan
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
La vie en rose
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Despacito (Piano Cover) - Peter Bence
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
The Temptations - My Girl (Smokey Robinson Tribute) 2006 Kennedy Cent
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Orlando Cachaito Lopez Redencion
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Edith Piaf - NON, JE NE REGRETTE RIEN
Dirty bomb fears as URANIUM is found in cargo at Heathrow
RADETZKY MARCH-2008-Wien, New Year Concert
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Only you (And you alone)
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Beautiful in White x Canon in D (Piano Cover by Riyandi Kusuma)
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
Strangers In The Night
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
Charles Aznavour - La Boheme
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
Summer time
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
Sting and Stevie Wonder - Fragile (from Sting's 60th birthday concert)
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Aux Champs Elysees
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Stand By Me - Ben E. King (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Saudi Arabia’s female ambassadors: Who are the five women representing the Kingdom?
La Mer (Beyond the Sea) – Avalon Jazz Band
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
She
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
Nathalie Song by Enzo Petrachi Stjepan Hauser Cello
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Shape of My Heart - Sting (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Radiohead - Creep
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
Quizás,Quizás,Quizás - Andrea Bocelli - Jennifer Lopez
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps - Multi-Couples
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Pentatonix Havana
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Paula Cole - Autumn Leaves
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
Oscar Benton Bensonhurst Blues
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
OH NANANA vs ABUSADAMENTE
Nina Simone - ”I Put A Spell On You”. Vezi aici cum cântă Jeremy Ragsd
NIGHTWISH - The Phantom Of The Opera
Motorshow 2016 Tanjay Negros Oriental
Monica Bellucci - Ti Amo
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean Milena The Voice France 2018
Michael Buble (Help Me Make It Through The Night) feat Loren Allred
Memories Canon In D - Maroon 5 (Boyce Avenue piano acoustic cover)
Matteo Simoni - Marina
Maroon 5 - One More Night
Maroon 5 - Memories
Mark Knopfler - Brothers In Arms (Berlin 2007 Live)
Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris - Romeo And Juliet (Real Live Roadrunni
Marina, Marina - The LUCKY DUCKIES intimist live concert at Guimarães
Major Lazer & DJ Snake – Lean On Mauranne The Voice France 2016
Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet - Joslin - Henri Mancini, Nino Rota
LoLa & Hauser - Love Story
Linkin Park Jay-Z - Numb Encore (Live 8 2005)
Hallelujah Mennel Ibtissem, The Voice France Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen - Dance Me to the End of Love
Leonard Cohen & Natasha Rostova - Dance me to the end of love
La casa de papel - Bella Ciao
La Camisa Negra
L'italiano (Toto Cutugno) - The Gypsy Queens
Juanes - La Camisa Negra
Jonathan and Charlotte - Britain's Got Talent 2012 Live Semi Final - U
John Powell - Assassin's Tango
Joe Cocker - You Can Leave Your Hat On (LIVE in Dortmund)
Joe Cocker - Unchain My Heart 2002 Live
Joe Cocker - A Whiter Shade Of Pale
Jay Z & Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind LIVE
Jason Mraz - Im Yours (live)
Jarrod Radnich - Bohemian Rhapsody - Virtuosic Piano Solo
James Blunt - You're Beautiful
James Blunt - You're Beautiful & Bonfire Heart (Live at The Nobel Peac)
If You Go Away - Helen Merrill & Stan Getz (Tribute to Virna Lisi)
I'LL BE MISSING YOU
I Say a Little Prayer
Hotel California ( Eagles ) 1994 Live
Historia de un amor - Luz Casal. Vezi interpretarea Biancăi Sumanariu
Here Comes The Sun - The Beatles (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover) on Spot
Heart - Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin - Kennedy Center Honors
HAVANA by Camila Cabello Zumba Pre Cooldown TML Crew Kramer Pastra
HAUSER and Señorita - I Will Always Love You
HAUSER - Waka Waka
HAUSER - Sway
HAUSER - Lambada
HAUSER - Historia de un Amor
HAUSER - Despacito
Great Pretender
Georgia May Foote & Giovanni Pernice Samba to 'Volare' - Strictly Come
Gary Moore - Still Got The Blues
GIPSY KINGS VOLARE Penelope Cruz
Fugees - Killing Me Softly With His Song
French Latino - Historia de un Amor
For A Few Dollars More The Danish National Symphony Orchestra (Live)
Flashdance • What a Feeling • Irene Cara
Filip Rudan - “Someone You Loved” Audicija 4 The Voice Hrvatska Sez
Eric Clapton - Wonderful Tonight
Enya - Only Time
Enrique Iglesias - Bailando (English Version) ft. Sean Paul
Enrique Iglesias - Bailamos
Elena Yerevan Historia de un amor
Ed Sheeran - Shape of You (Official Music Video)
Ed Sheeran - Perfect Symphony [with Andrea Bocelli]
Ed Sheeran - Perfect (Official Music Video)
Easy On Me - Adele (Boyce Avenue 90’s style piano acoustic cover) on S
ERA - Ameno
ELENA YEREVAN- Cancion Del Mariachi-IN STUDIO-2017 DPR
Dust In The Wind - Kansas (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Despacito x Shape Of You - Pentatonix
Deep Purple - Child In Time - Live (1970)
David Foster When A Man Loves A WomanIt's A Mans World (SealMichael Bo
Dance me to the end of Love ( Pi-Air Design )
Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise (feat. L.V.) [Official Music Video]
Conquest Of Paradise (Vangelis), played on Böhm Emporio organ
Cielito Lindo
Chico & The Gypsies - Bamboleo
Canción Del Mariachi - Antonio Banderas, Los Lobos • Desperado
Camila Cabello - Havana (Audio) ft. Young Thug
Camila Cabello - Havana ( cover by J.Fla )
California Dreamin' - The Mamas & The Papas José Feliciano (Boyce Ave
Buster Benton - Money Is The Name of The Game
Hallelujah Pentatonix
Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry Be Happy (Official Music Video)
Bob Dylan - Knockin' On Heaven's Door Emilia The Voice Kids France
Besame Mucho - Cesaria Evora
Ben E. King - Stand by Me Sax Cover Alexandra Ilieva Thomann
Bella Ciao
Bella Ciao - INSTRUMENTAL
Beautiful in White x Canon in D (Piano Cover by Riyandi Kusuma)
Bad Romance - Vintage 1920's Gatsby Style Lady Gaga Cover ft. Ariana Savalas & Sarah Reich(1)
BELLA CIAO 2020 - KARAOKE ITALIANO
BAMBOLEO - Gipsy Kings • Antonio Banderas, Katya Virshilas
BAILANDO (original)
Awesome Ukrainian yodeler - SOFIA SHKIDCHENKO (with English subtitles)
Avicii - The Nights
Atom - The Great Gig in the Sky
Aretha Franklin - (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (Official Ly
Antonio Banderas - Cancion del Mariachi (Desperado)
André Rieu - Zorba's Dance (Sirtaki)
André Rieu - Can't Help Falling In Love
André Rieu & Mirusia - Ave Maria
Andrew Reyes Elton John - Don't Let The Sun Go Down The Voice 2020 (
Andreas Kümmert Whiter Shade Of Pale The Voice of Germany 2013 Showd
And I Love You So
All About That Bass - Postmodern Jukebox European Tour Version
Alan Walker - Faded (Piano Cover)
Ain't No Sunshine -- Bill Withers (cover by Canen 12 y.o.)
African music
Adriana Vidović - “Creep” Audicija 4 The Voice Hrvatska Sezona 3
Adriana Vidović - “Believer” Nokaut 3 The Voice Hrvatska Sezona 3
A Fistful of Dollars - The Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Tuva
4 Beautiful Soundtracks Relaxing Piano [10min]
2CELLOS - Whole Lotta Love vs. Beethoven 5th Symphony [OFFICIAL VIDEO]
2CELLOS - Smooth Criminal (Live at Suntory Hall, Tokyo)
2CELLOS - Smells Like Teen Spirit [Live at Sydney Opera House]
2CELLOS - Despacito [OFFICIAL VIDEO]
13 Year Old Girl Playing Il Silenzio (The Silence) - André Rieu
094.All About That Bass
00 - SADNESS PART 1
(Ghost) Riders In the Sky (American Outlaws Live at Nassau Coliseum, 1
(Everything I Do) I Do It For You - Bryan Adams (Boyce Avenue ft. Conn
What a wonderful world
Moon river
×