Have Yourself a Merry Little——-> Kenny G. Holiday
“The men grappled with each other to board the quickly filling bus. Others wriggled in through the windows, scaling the outside, using the large wheels as footholds and leaving scuff-marks on the white exterior with their shoes. These weren’t refugees fleeing disaster. They were migrant workers in 2022 World Cup host Qatar, fighting to earn a few dollars. The job: Pretend to be a sports fan. Qataris boast they’re mad for sports. The ruling emir of the oil-and-gas rich Gulf nation is so fond of football he bought Paris Saint-Germain, now France’s powerhouse team………. Thirty Qatar riyals – equivalent to $8 – won’t buy a beer in the luxury waterside hotel in Doha, the capital, where Qatari movers-and-shakers unwind. But for this pittance, workers from Africa and Asia sprint under blinding sun in the Doha industrial zone where they’re housed and surround a still-moving bus like bees on honey……………..”
During the FIFA World Cup games in South Africa, there were many groups, including families, rooting for the North Korean team. Which seemed odd, given that individuals in North Korea are not allowed to do any private travel overseas. If they could afford it. Then came reports, some of them credible, that these were Chinese crowds, including families with children, hired by the ruling dynasty in Pyongyang to pretend to be North Koreans.
Now we come to Qatar, where temporary foreign laborers are more than 87% of the population of about 2 million. Most of them are from South and Southeast Asia. There are just not enough people in Qatar to fill any stadium, even if expatriate laborers were willing to pay for tickets. Which they are not because they can’t afford it and most are not interested in football/soccer. Hence this practice of hiring foreign spectators. The ruling family of Qatar will spend billions for the privilege of being the only Middle East country to host the FIFA World Cup games in this century. Until somebody offers bigger bribes to FIFA officials.
This item was eagerly highlighted by Saudi semi-official Alarabiya, but only in its English edition. Gulf GCC media are rarely critical of other Gulf GCC countries and regimes. Which means tat Saudi-Qatari differences and tensions have not vanished, they were just swept under the rug for now. of course the fact that Qatar beat Saudi Arabia to win the Gulf Cup last month may also have something to do with this.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
“Senior Fifa figures are for the first time seriously considering the ramifications of ordering a rerun of the vote for the right to stage the 2022 World Cup, in the aftermath of new corruption allegations against the hosts, Qatar.
While awaiting the results of a semi-independent inquiry into the 2018 and 2022 bidding races, senior football figures heading for the 2014 tournament in Brazil are understood to be considering their response if the report recommends a new vote in light of new claims based on hundreds of millions of leaked emails and documents. In Britain, there was a renewed outpouring of concern from politicians and former football executives after the Sunday Times alleged that Mohamed bin Hammam, a Qatari former Fifa executive committee member, paid $5m (£3m) in cash, gifts and legal fees to senior football officials ……………”
“The Qatari construction magnate Mohamed bin Hammam was in 2011 cast out from his gilded position at the commanding heights of world football’s governing body. His fall closely traces the arc of Fifa’s shattered reputation, and the melting credibility of his country’s 2022 World Cup project. Now the subject of the Sunday Times’s remarkably detailed allegations that he paid lavish bungs to Fifa officials while lobbying them to favour Qatar………………”
No doubt in my mind that millions in bribe money changed hands before the FIFA vote. But is that all new: from FIFA to the IOC to Formula One, among others? International sports bodies are rife with corruption and bribery, and they have been so long before Qatar became a household word in Paris. But as I always say: it takes at least two to tango.
There seems to be a trilateral alliance of interests seeking to wrest the FIFA World Cup games away from Qatar. In Britain, media and officials are reviving their old justifiable complaint about how the 2022 venue was chosen. The officials are still sore because London lost to Qatar (well, probably because of the bribes). Besides, British officials of the Cameron cabinet bend backward
and forward to please the Saudi princes who are gloating over all this. Saudi media like Alarabiya are covering the controversy with relish, enjoying the embarrassment of their upstart Qatari rivals in the GCC. So is some Egyptian media, mindful of Qatari support of the 2011 revolt against Hosni Mubarak and its close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Other regional countries like Syria (where Qatari potentates support the rebel Jihadists) are also gloating. So much for brotherly, or is it sisterly, Arab and GCC relations. The Qataris don’t seem to have many regional allies nowadays. The Saudis and their Bahrain stooges are hostile because Doha thwarts Saudi attempts at hegemony over GCC foreign policy (it is also partly brotherly and sisterly jealousy among the ruling potentates). They have lost the biggest prize, Egypt, to the Saudi princes and Abu Dhabi shaikhs who now have their man Al Sisi in power and call the shots in Cairo. They may lose whatever influence they have in Libya and Tunisia. They have also antagonized Iraq and Syria and Iran.