28 May 2015
When Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup, people flooded into the streets to celebrate a moment that saw the tiny gas-rich Gulf state elevated on to the global stage. Almost five years on, initial jubilation has mutated into subdued resignation at the rising tide of corruption claims against Doha’s bid and calls for greater protection for the labourers who will be building the stadiums and related infrastructure.
The steady stream of criticism has now exploded into a dramatic threat to the Qatar World Cup after seven Fifa officials were arrested on corruption charges relating to a US probe into bribery and a Swiss criminal investigation into the awarding of the tournaments in 2018 to Russia and 2022 in Qatar. “Everyone is watching this very nervously,” said one Doha-based businessman. “It is clear that this is very serious, but it is too early to tell.” The Qatari government has not commented on the arrests.
The World Cup was the pinnacle of Qatar’s emerging strategy in the last decade to use its newfound financial muscle to promote the country as a major global player, from developing domestic interest in sports and culture to global investment into London property and European blue-chips.
… “Qatar has been its own worst enemy, wasting its soft power strategy down the drain,” said James Dorsey, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
RSIS / Online / Print
Last updated on 16/11/2015