21 December 2014
Qatar has booked two recent successes in what has become an uphill struggle to improve its tarnished image: a papering over of its rift with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates sparked by Qatari support for the Muslim Brotherhood and reports that it may be interested in acquiring London Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur FC.
The successes come against the backdrop of a host of news reports that have done little to polish Qatar’s controversial image. The possible Tottenham acquisition could generate a counter dote but risks reviving debate whether Gulf states are in part using the purchase of high profile soccer clubs as a reputational management tool or in the words of human rights critics reputation laundering.
To be sure, Qatar’s reported interest in Tottenham is driven by more than its immediate reputational issues. Like its Gulf rival, the United Arab Emirates which owns Manchester City FC, Qatar has long been believed to want an English Premier League presence. Efforts a couple of years ago to acquire Manchester United foundered on disagreement over pricing. Qatar’s most prominent European trophy is Paris Saint-Germain FC (PSG) alongside sponsorships that include FC Barcelona.
…James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Wuerzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog and a forthcoming book with the same title.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 29/12/2014