Qatar merits the FIFA World Cup 2022; I said it there. Of course, this goes against the weight of Western public opinions. However, when personal judgement, hidden agendas and emotions are stripped away, Qatar merits the most incredible show on earth.
The group stages of matches and the last 16 have now been completed, and I was hoping that the beautiful game could be the talking point. But, unfortunately, the fantastic spectacle The Qatar 2022 World Cup has given us has not done much for the continual adverse reporting. All matters raised before the World Cup started had a foundation, but with the point proven, it was and is time to move on?
FIFA’s world cup, or the people’s world cup, is truly a global event. This is helped by the fact that football is loved by many worldwide. Sports are ingrained into the lives of the majority of people. It offers health, social, team-building, leadership, and competitiveness benefits. It helps many escape stresses, challenges and life plagues.
It bonds individuals under shared goals and interests. This mass appeal of sport is universal, and football sits at the top of this pyramid. With such an appeal, why would we not take the most incredible show on earth on a road trip? Why should it only be taken to limited regions?
Qatar merits the FIFA World Cup 2022 without a shadow of a doubt. Many of you reading this will think, has this dude been hiding in a bunker for the past 12 years? Does he hear the noise surrounding awarding of the World Cup to Qatar? Rest assured that I have not been concealing myself in a bunker or lost the ability to read and hear. My wise father mentioned to me once that I should never believe what I hear and only believe half of what I see. With my GOAT of a father’s words reverberating in my earlobes, that is precisely what I am doing.
Unlike many, I deal in rationality, facts, and progression. Therefore, I am not easily distracted by the noise of the day. As a researcher and an analytical person, I do my best to avoid bias and understand everyone’s or the situation’s perspective. Although I cannot say that I am a mature person, my kids will highlight my childish habits.
However, I have learned to take in all the facts and the noise. Weigh the fragments, and whatever deductions I make, I provide a balanced view. As a result, Qatar has been afforded a different balanced view from those looking in from the outside.
The World Cup mobilises everyone; sport is a place to escape. It’s a sanctuary, no matter our current dilemmas. Issues have me highlighted, which is excellent, and Qatar embraces all points raised. Qatar merits the FIFA World Cup 2022. Let’s consider some facts…
FIFA World Cup: It’s a numbers game, and numbers do not lie
Every country in the world has a favourite sport, but football is the favourite of many countries worldwide. Regardless of the country’s wealth or the opulence of the individual, football is the unifying language everyone understands.
Think back to your last holiday. I am sure you observed a bunch of strangers communicating under the dialect of football. We have all seen clips of war-torn areas around the world. In many of those camps, you see kids and young men uniting under the love of football.
Played in Europe, South America, Africa, the Middle East, Central America, and Asia, it is the most popular sport in the world. With participants in over 200 countries worldwide. It has a fanbase of 3.5 billion, with 250 million players worldwide.
FIFA, with 211 members, represents almost all countries worldwide. FIFA has more members than the United Nations (see the image above for comparative organisations). This is an organisation whose goals are to maintain international peace and security. The United Nations aims to achieve friendly relations among nations, international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonising the actions of governments.
Surly FIFA must do the same? Furthermore, FIFA must also ensure parity concerning the World Cup award?
With so many members across the world and on different continents. Is it not right to seek out those that can host and help them host it? FIFA historically used to rotate the World Cup award between the Americas and Europe. Have a look at the image above.
Only going to these limited continents was to circumvent boycotts or controversy. In effect, FIFA has been held to ransom by the so-called developed nations in the west. It was only when Japan and South Korea joined the World cup in Asia that FIFA decided the World Cup was the game of the world, not the elite few.
Eighteen countries have hosted the FIFA World Cup in the competition’s twenty-two tournaments history since the inaugural World Cup in 1930 to 2022. This is insanely low, considering it has 211 members across all continents. How can the World Cup be considered a World event when the Americas and Europe are the gatekeepers?
Looking at the images above, you can see the six FIFA continents and the number of confederations within each. Africa and Asia (except for Europe) have the most associations, yet they have only hosted the World Cup three times.
If we split these confederations into regions, the picture becomes more evident. It is only fair to subdivide. Whilst Africa can be subdivided, there is no point in doing this, as only South Africa has had the privilege of hosting. Oceania has never hosted, so an exercise of subdivision serves no purpose. Generally speaking, the most complete representation of a FIFA continent is South America. Regionally, the confederations in South America are very similar, so this will be left intact.
Europe, North-Central America-Caribbean and Asia-Australia all require subdivision. Take Asia’s regions, which vary according to geographic literature and organisation. Since the 18th century, Asia has been divided into several subregions. You can see from the image above that these subdivisions highlight the disparities in the regions the FIFA World Cup has been hosted.
Western Europe has accounted for more of the confederations in Europe to host the Worl Cup. Still, the love can be considered equally spread amongst these members. North-Central America-Caribbean has only one region that has hosted the World Cup (North America). Before Qatar 2022, only Western Asia had hosted the World Cup.
The pattern is clear for all (see the above timeline image). I fully understand that hosting the World Cup requires deep pockets to be able to finance it. But with FIFA not paying tax in any territory it hosts, it makes billions of pounds. With this money, does it not make sense to spread the love? Does it not make sense to touch so many kids in these poorer nations?
Qatar is one of the wealthiest countries in the world per capita. They do not rely on handouts like South Africa required to host the World Cup. If such a country is willing to host it, should we not encourage it?
Numbers do not lie; the political merry-go-round of awarding and hosting in wealthy nations is not proper or sustainable. In a world where so many of the player come from outside these wealthy nations. On numbers, Qatar merits the FIFA World Cup 2022.
There is a pattern of adverse reporting when it comes to World Cup host
The power the West yields cannot be understated. For centuries the west has flexed its financial or military muscles and got away with it. To the present day, the west still tries to exert control of nations around the world. Power in its raw sense has long been eroded from the super countries, slowly trickling down to the so-called lesser nations.
Nelson Mandela’s response at the Aaron Davis Hall, City College of New York, to a political correspondent who questioned his human rights principles. Sums up the disdain I feel the west holds for those they consider inferior.
One of the mistakes some political analysts make; is to think that their enemies should be our enemies.
To fully appreciate the magnitude, please watch the clip below:
Since the World Cup left the shores of Europe and the Americas in 2002 for a proper world tour and landed in South Korea and Japan. The reporting has been prejudicial toward the hosting nations after Germany in 2006. On the contrary, South Africa 2010 (Africa), Brazil 2014 (South America), Russia 2018 (Europe) and Qatar 2022 (Asia) have all been scrutinised, and reporting has been very adverse.
I have taken the liberty to go through some of the enormous qualitative news clippings from 2010 to 2022. It is socking the pattern of narratives being created and reported leading up to hosting the World Cup. I find it woeful that stories around themes like; bribery, construction readiness, corruption, crime, human rights, LGBTQ, poor playing surface, poor sections of the country, racial issues and sustainability; becomes the message we send out about these hosting cities.
I am all for freedom of speech or the ability to report on a country to force them into action. But when the reporting is so one-sided, we all have the right to raise an eyebrow. For example, see the image below of the themes levied at the host nations.
If I were a pessimist, I would say that the Force was against the World Cup being sent worldwide. However, the Force was in favour when Europe and the Americas shared the spoils. Having spent nearly two weeks watching the Qatar World Cup, we have never seen such a remarkable spectacle.
I am not simply speaking of the significant upsets by the lower footballing nations taking on super footballing countries and beating them. The equivalent of David showing Goliath the way. I am talking about the amalgamation of fans from diverse nations and cultures. We have never had a World Cup with so much representation of fans.
This has only been made possible because the World Cup is on tour. It has only been made possible because the World Cup is held in Qatar and the Middle East. The Middle East allows all fans worldwide to travel at a fraction of the cost had it been helped in other locations. Considering the unique situation where 83% of the population of Qatar are ex-pats. This has guaranteed that most countries at the World Cup are represented by fans.
Those from outside Qatar from different continents can spend hours on flights. You only have to look in the crowds to see the diverse range of fans. This is the reporting that should have taken place before the World Cup arrived in Qatar. Not just the hidden and targeted same-song narratives left at the doors of the last four nations to host the most fantastic show on earth.
Qatar merits the FIFA World Cup 2022 for sure. For being able to bring so many fans together, which has not been seen at any other World Cup. This is the positive reporting we should be focusing on. Do not worry. I hear those of you saying that you are reporting for change…
My working experience with FIFA
I had the honour of working as a consultant for FIFA via Loughborough University. FIFA needed scientific studies to be conducted, which could aid them in decision-making. They wanted to make decisions for the betterment of the game. Instead of doing this in-house, they wanted a proven academic institution to conduct the work.
Halfway through the project, all hell broke loose withal the corruption charges. This was in 2015 when the United States federal prosecutors disclosed corruption cases by officials and associates connected with FIFA. Fourteen people were indicted in connection with an investigation. The arrests all centred on the alleged use of bribery, fraud and money laundering to corrupt the issuing of media and marketing rights for FIFA games.
This image of FIFA was heightened even more from those countries that lost out to Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022). Those countries’ media outlets and noteworthy individuals aimed to prove that the system was rigged.
Many must understand that FIFA has two different divisions, like many other organisations. The workhorse, the organisation’s heartbeat, and the executives sit at the top of the food chain. These two groups should be considered as functioning as two independents. As with the UK government, you have the sitting party. However, the workhorse is those in Whitehall. These are the British civil service. They function regardless of what party is in office.
FIFA is the same; the general workers work hard and are there for the game’s good. But, interestingly, they are called painted as crooks. At conferences, when I would present my findings on behalf of FIFA, the atmosphere would be hostile and aggressive. As I had a FIFA badge on, people would assume this gave them the right to say what they wanted to.
It is often reported in the UK media that FIFA is corrupt; they all look closer to home. First, the is a set of rules in bidding to host the World Cup. Then there are the unsaid rules when bidding to host the World Cup and The Olympic Games. This additional set of rules is what everyone bidding plays.
During a London speech, Jack Warner (then FIFA executive) suggested that the English 2018 World Cup bid was ‘lightweight‘. He said that the English FA needed to bring in the heavyweights of the late Queen and David Beckham to support their bids. So, true to form, Prince William and David Beckham were drafted. Then there was the episode of the English FA buying handbags and gifts for the wives of FIFA executive committee members.
I enjoyed my time conducting research studies for FIFA. Those who work daily just like us are there for the good of the game. What goes on with the owners of a restaurant does not stop the functioning of the kitchen. Those who work at FIFA work hard to develop the game worldwide and support many poor nations.
There is a game that they all play to win to host the World Cup. The losers of this process are left with the taste of a sour grape, which is not to everyone’s fondness. Historically many of those supper nations have had it easy with the games they played. However, new players in the field can play the same game, but their pockets are more profound. They can step it up instead of just buying a handbag. Rules were clear for all. Each bidding nation played the game. They won fair and square, and Qatar merits the FIFA World Cup 2022!
My personal experience with Qatar and its impact on why Qatar Merits The FIFA World Cup 2022
Reporting of Qatar hosting the World Cup has been very wholly unfair. I lived in Qatar for under two years, and reporting and portrayals of the country are being overstated. Whilst living in Qatar, I viewed the country to be welcoming and accepting of people. Granted, there are exceptions, but overall I have been pleasantly impressed by my stay.
With a population of around 2.9 million people, 83% are expatriates. There is a vast array of nationalities, all living together in a safe environment. The negativity surrounding Qatar hosting the World Cup is a crazy frenzy. A cocktail of agendas from many different individuals, organisations, and governments.
I loved my experience in Qatar. It was the safest place I had ever been to. You can lose your phone and still track it back, and it will be there, with only a dust collection on it. My kids were young when we arrived in Qatar, so they often travelled around with a pushchair and a bag filled with necessities for the children. On many park trips, I usually leave the pushchair and the bag 30min unattended and return for them. They will be in the exact position.
Qatar offered my children to live the childhood I had, where all the kids came onto the streets and played together. With no need for the modern requirements of planning with other parents just to play outside. Qatar offered my kids the ability to simply go onto the compound and play. And as parents, you were not worried about cars or someone trying to snatch your child.
I love the UK dearly. Anyone who reads my blogs will know this. I love the identity of the UK, especially what the later Queen offered (‘Duty, Service and Compassion: Queen Elizabeth II’). The UK has given me a lot, especially for someone with dyslexia. With the help of the local government, buying me expensive books and a brand-new computer at the start of each course, I obtained a PhD in engineering.
This love I have for my country is the same love Qatar has for its people. It was only in 1968 that Britain announced plans to withdraw from the Gulf. Qatar declared its independence on 3 September 1971. With the earlier agreements with Britain being replaced with a treaty of friendship. Since then, Qatar has tried to build its own country in their own light for the best of its people.
How can this be wrong? I understand why they would be restrictive and protective of their country. Qatar is dwarfed by 83% of expatriates. If it did not take care of, they will lose control of their own country. This is a sore subject for me, with my roots in Africa. I have seen what happens when those in power take all they can. And I have also seen those that come as saints to suit their purpose. These same people have agendas.
To me, Qatar has it right. For those willing to stay in the country, you respected their rules. If you are not happy, then you are free to leave. I do not see what the issue with that is. A country must look after their own before it can help others. When on flights, I am sure we are all accustomed to the flight attendant telling us to put our oxygen masks on first before helping others. Qatar is doing just that.
Qatar Human Rights and LGBTQ
The critical question that needs to be answered when we speak about human rights and LGBTQ is what comes first. Unlike the chicken or egg conundrum, we need to distinguish clearly what order activities occur. We must decide if development or human rights comes first.
Qatar has taken steps by subjecting itself to be judged by the world. Therefore, when Qatar decided to bid for the World Cup, it, in effect, started the development of its human rights. This process is the same process that every country in the world took in the developmental stage. Therefore, we must allow Qatar time to show us what they can do with the baton.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino elicited shock in his attempts to stem the flow of criticism of Qatar with his speech on the eve of the World Cup. I was not too impressed with the opening gambit of;
Today, I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arabic. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel like a migrant worker… Of course, I am not Qatari, I am not an Arab, I am not African, I am not gay, I am not disabled.
He tried to justify his opening lines by drawing parallels with his encounters with discrimination and bullying. This topic is for another blog, but the following words were telling. It highlighted how the Western world has continually attacked Qatar. This is what he had o say:
We have told many, many lessons from some Europeans, from the western world. I think for what we Europeans have been doing the last 3,000 years, we should be apologising for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons to people.
Gianni Infantino is a brave and wise man. I applaud him for those comments he made above. However, speak to any so-called foreign person, and they will a large number agree with what Gianni Infantino had to say. As a black British man, I was put in my place by a middle-aged white FIFA consultant when I was conducting research studies for FIFA.
There I was, feeling all bold and righteous. Then, back in 2012, we sat waiting to conduct studies with players in the Netherlands. I started to complain that Africa was corrupt, which is why it was not making progress. Before I completed my wise statement, the middle age white man shot right back at me with a question. He said, ‘how long has Africa been going at it? When did Africa gain its independence?
Not knowing what he was saying and feeling rather stupid, I froze; he then proceeded to answer his own question. He said, ‘Paul, Africa has been going 60 to 70 years. It has made more effective progress in a short space of time. It took the Western world centuries to reach the same stage.
His words resonated with me for a long time and still lives in my mind rent-free. He was very correct in his statement. However, if the same applies to Qatar, it means Qatar has only been going at it for about 20 years. I met many people in Qatar who stated that Qatar started their journey in 2005, taking off once the World Cup was awarded. Below is an image of the White Sheraton Hotel, the ship-looking building. It was the only high-rise building in Qatar in 2000.
Like Gianni Infantino, I feel that the Western hypocrisy is palpable. My cherished United Kingdom has been dealing with immigration issues for around 1000s of years. Yet, there are stories of 100 unaccompanied minors still missing from UK hotels they were placed in. Britain should consider its track record in terms of what it deems appropriate.
The UK and USA have a close relationship with many countries that have many reports of human rights abuse and migrant worker rights abuses. However, a blind eye is turned when money can be made by selling those countries’ military and defence equipment. Regarding country bashing, the UK and USA operate on an À la carte menu that fits their needs.
I was born and raised in the UK in East London. In the ’90s, foreigners did not feel safe in our neighbourhoods. The British National Front (BNP) ran riot during the night. But as time went on, things improved. Qatar’s journey to resolve human rights and LGBTQ will not happen overnight. And Qatar knows they are in a process.
The point that many people still need to include is that the World Cup is not the first sporting event to happen in Qatar. They have been hosting significant events for years before this World Cup. They have signed a 10-year deal with Formula 1. Who would subject themselves to such scrutiny if they did not want to modernise? Hosting sporting events in the Arab Peninsula comes with adverse reporting of human rights and LGBTQ issues, tagged as sportswashing.
Sportswashing is a term used to describe the practice of individuals, groups, corporations, or governments using sports to improve reputations tarnished by wrongdoing. If modernisation within the confines of one’s culture was not the aim, no country would inflict wounds of adverse reporting or publicity on their land?
The secretary general of the 2022 Qatar World Cup, Hassan Al-Thawadi, summed it up well when asked if the 2022 tournament was sportswashing?
That could not be further from the truth. If you look at the progress that’s been made over the last 12 years, I think that in itself does away with the concept of sportswashing because actual progress has been made on the ground in relation to that.
There’s always more work to be done. Just like there’s more work to be done in England, just like there’s more work to be done throughout the rest [of the world]. I don’t think any country today in the world can claim that they have the ideal system in place.
Always progress needs to be made. We acknowledge that progress needs to be made but what we asked was also to acknowledge the work that’s been done.
I respect the candidness with which Hassan Al-Thawadi so eloquently spoke. When pressed on the subject of migrant deaths, Al-Thawadi said:
No matter what you do, nothing is going to compensate the loss of life. But we’ve tried our best to be able to provide the relevant compensation for the families.
What we have done is investigated every death, tried to find the root cause and ensure that these tragedies do not occur, and tried to take steps towards preventing any such tragedies from occurring.
With or without the World Cup, Qatar would have undergone a massive infrastructure programme. So is it not a great idea that the World Cup was awarded to Qatar? As with Qatar hosting the World Cup and other sporting events in the future, don’t we get to shine the light on such issues?
To me, Qatar merits the FIFA World Cup 2022. With the World Cup in hand, we get to hold Qatar to its word of improving. Which is all we can ask for.
Concluding remarks on why Qatar Merits The FIFA World Cup 2022
The decision to award Qatar the World Cup was taken 12 years ago, and none of the current FIFA executives was there. So Sepp Blatter can now come out of his hiding location and say awarding Qatar the tournament was a mistake.
I find it insulting that Sepp Blatter can say that ‘Qatar is too tiny of a country to host the tournament and that football and the World Cup are too big for it. How rude is that? I could not disagree with him more with his words. We are lucky that Qatar has decided to spend big to bring the World Cup to a location, which has ensured that not just the followers of the rich nations can enjoy it. So people should let it go and enjoy the show Qatar has put on so far, with more twists to come.
There are valid grounds to question the process by which host countries are awarded the World Cup. If that is the case, then the biggest question for me would be why Qatar is hosting the world cup in the first place? Buts such a question should be asked of Qatar and all past host countries, as they all played by the same rules in gaining the World Cup.
The decision has been made to award each of the past host countries. There is something about embracing the country and its culture and enjoying the beautiful game.
We need to be very careful in how we go about doing world business. The oppress can quickly rise to become the oppressor. Power in super nations is no longer the same; many people do not notice this, but our ties with Qatar are much closer than you think. This association is set only to become more intimate in the years to come.
Qatar is one of the UK’s most prominent investors. They own the Shard, Canary Wharf, the Shell Centre redevelopment on London’s South Bank, luxury department store Harrods, and 5* hotel Claridge’s in London. In addition, they have significant shareholdings in some of our biggest brands; Barclays, Sainsbury’s and Heathrow airport.
Qatar has signed up to invest up to £10bn over the next five years in the UK in sectors from cybersecurity to life sciences. They are the majority owner of the South Hook terminal in Wales, where LNG is offloaded into special containers for transportation. They have invested millions to up that capacity by a quarter by 2025.
Is it not better to work with Qatar and use our soft power to hold them to the promise they have made? Looking at the facts and figures, Qatar merits the FIFA World Cup 2022. They deserve the time to make good on their promise. We should all be enjoying the World Cup and appreciating that Qatar hosting the World Cup. Has allowed many fans from the surrounding countries to enjoy the World Cup for the first time. Is that not what the World Cup is about?
I will let the words from the secretary general of the 2022 Qatar World Cup, Hassan Al-Thawadi echo in your minds;
We are football crazy and football mad like anywhere else. We have the legitimate ambition to showcase our region to the rest of the world and to change people’s perception of who we are.
We have always said everybody is welcome. What we will ensure is everybody will be safe. Everybody will feel secure.
[We are] inviting the world to come to visit Qatar, to visit the Arab world, and to understand again, for us, we’re a relatively conservative country, which means public display of affection is something that is not within our culture.
But hospitality and welcoming people from different parts of the world into our country is part of our culture.
The rewards of correctness, obedience, and fairness are fantastic, but the process is callous. However, one step at a time progress can be realised!
- European Union, ‘Member Countries’, European-union.europa.EU, [Accessed 5 December 2022]
- FIFA, ‘Member Associations’ FIFA.com, [Accessed 5 December 2022]
- International Olympic Committee, ‘Members’, Olympics.com, [Accessed 5 December 2022]
- NATO, ‘Member Countries’, Nato.int, [Accessed 5 December 2022]
- The Commonwealth Games Federation, ‘Member’, thecgf.com, [Accessed 5 December 2022]
- UNICEF, ‘Executive Board Membership’, unicef.org, [Accessed 5 December 2022]
- United Nations, ‘Member States’, un.org, [Accessed 5 December 2022]
- World Population Review, ‘Most Popular Sport by Country 2022’, Worldpopulationreview.com, [Accessed 5 December 2022]