Why the World Cup in Qatar will not change anything in the country

The daily reality of elders is six star level. Even an international soccer tournament won’t do much, says our local correspondent.

A scene on the beach in Qatar.AFP/Manan Vatisayana

No one can claim to be looking forward to the next four weeks with a pure heart. In addition, the realities of life here in Europe are very depressing, and the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar, crammed into the busy schedule of major European leagues, will be very overburdened in terms of sports politics. Hosts fear unwelcome guests who do not adapt to the culture and ruling house as respectfully as their residents. And they are afraid of every camera and microphone outside the stadiums in corners that the emirate does not want to light.

We too in the media travel with damp feeling to the desert on the Persian Gulf, where just over half a century ago pearl divers and fishermen struggled to provide for their families. Until huge natural gas deposits were discovered in the ocean, giving the tiny country wealth, glitz and glamour.

There is such a skewed amount of capital in Qatar that a country 180 kilometers long and 85 kilometers wide was able to beat Australia, the United States, Japan and South Korea and host the most important football tournament in the world. An event intended, in addition to raising funds for the organizing FIFA, to be a global celebration.

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But FIFA can’t really make you think that the matches are going to be exhilarating. Such insolent statements to President Gianni Infantino should be safely filed under the heading of “clumsy marketing”. The evidence that the long-shuffled team of global governing body officials that awarded the 2022 World Cup to the five weakest applicants in December 2010 succumbed to the sweet poison of corruption is overwhelming.

The shift to winter, the burden of migrant workers, and the poverty of diversity in one of the richest countries in the world—all of these are reasons why people recoil in disgust. There is a shadow on earth that would not otherwise give a shadow.

In Qatar there are no contact points between the layers

The vast majority of the roughly 300,000 people who are well cared for as locals in Qatar cannot be concerned with the fact that far-reaching changes are happening to more than two million lower-class immigrants. There are no points of contact, so the living environments are too different, the social divisions are too deep, and the languages ​​are too different.

The privileged live in prosperity in a secure country that, with amazing intelligence and foresight, has created a global network in politics, sports, business and science, where the World Cup is just another thread. Therefore, it would be naive to expect fundamental changes in Qatar in the long term. The daily reality for the Sheiks is six-star level, and there it will remain, without a four-week football tournament that leads to cultural change and without developing empathy for gays, lesbians, migrant workers, and women’s rights.

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Once you get the ball rolling, it’s back to the sport. This must be prevented

When the caravan of media, teams and fans leave, things should go back to normal. In any case, criticism of conditions only echoed in the principality from a small part of the big world. In southern Europe, Africa, Asia and South America, there are no loud reverberating chambers Qatar should fear. Once the ball is rolling, experience has shown that the headlines turn to the sport. What should be prevented this time.

But it is also true that Qatar appears to be more progressive and peace-loving than its big neighbors Saudi Arabia, Iran and many other countries in the world. The Emir and his court maintain excellent relations with the United States of America, which maintains its largest air base in the Arabian Peninsula in Qatar. Nor does the German economy want its long, carefully considered relationship to be strained by excessively persistent criticism from the German Football Association or politicians. However, many fans expect clear announcements from the association. A dilemma between food and morals.

A number of German fans are so disgusted by the behavior of Qatar and FIFA that they want to abandon the trip to the emirate and boycott the television broadcast. It remains to be seen if this will lead to mass ignorance of the tournament, and how this will affect the ratings and the bleak mood in Germany even without football in Qatar. The World Cup in November and December has no predecessors and therefore no empirical values. This also applies to teams. The German is good enough to get to the endgame and not stable enough to be eliminated long before that. Much can be expected: It has never been more difficult than in late autumn 2022 for the German Football Association team to generate enthusiasm at home.

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