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  • Writer's pictureThe Paladins

Qatar's social conservatism: a World Cup 2022 perspective

Qatar is due to host the soccer World Cup in November and December 2022. This will entail a lot of travellers to Qatar with a far wider variety of backgrounds and cultural knowledge of the conservative yet vibrant city state of Qatar. How will Doha managewith this influx of people notwithstanding its conservative Islamic laws and culture? In this article we provide some insights into this apparent paradox.

The choice of a bakingly hot Gulf city state with little tradition or reputation for soccer was always an unusual choice for the 2022 soccer World Cup, particularly given that the World Cup habitually takes place in summer. That is something that had to be changed, given that Doha (the capital of Qatar) is fiendishly hot in the summer months, with temperatures exceeding 50 degrees centigrade. That is not a temperature in which a person can even survive outside for any period, still less one in which a professional player can play soccer (or a fan can watch a game). Even moving the tournament to November, the weather currently tops 30 degrees. So this will be a hot World Cup, possibly in more than one sense of the world.

The fact that Qatar was elected by FIFA as the venue was the product of corrupt financing arrangements (as we will come to explain), put in place by the international criminal sports financier Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, a renegade member of the Kuwaiti Royal Family who has been in battle with other members of his own Royal Family for the rights of succession to the Kuwiati Emiracy for the best part of a decade, using various corrupt and unlawful manouevres on both sides. In September 2021 Ahmed Al-Sabah was convicted of forgery by an (admittedly very unsatisfactory) court in Geneva. By curious coincidence of timing, his trial of appeal is due to begin on 16 November 2022, just as the Qatari World Cup is getting underway.

The way Ahmed Al-Sabah achieved appointment of Qatar as host country for the 2022 FIFA World Cup was the same as how he achieved all his appointments: corruption. Because essentially all international sporting organisations work on a one member one vote system of making decisions; and organisations like FIFA have virtually every country in the world as a member, the way you rig the voting decisions for things like FIFA World Cup tournament locations is the following. You purchase the votes of poor countries with low rule of law (for example those in sub-Saharqn Africa; but not exclusively that region - the world is full of victim states for the likes of Al--Sabah) in exchange for kickbacks. Al-Sabah has various kinds of kickbback schemes, but we need core only one prominent example. Al-Sabah has ancillary financing organisations, such as the Olympic Council of Asia (a shell company of which he is President), hand out scholarships for relatives of th Sports Ministers of poor countries to study in the United States, in exvhange for their votes. These scholarships are typically worth between US100,000 and USD250,000. The country:s Sports Minister, via their relative, receives the scholarship or grant. And in exchange they vote as Ahmed wishes.

This is obviously totally illegal and corrupt and breaks every long-arm international corruption statute on the books, including thhr United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977. Th elected country, typically a corrupt country such as Qatar or Russia (an earlier beneficiary of the same system), pays for the corruption by contributing to Ahmed's various offshore ventures.

In this way, every sporting event is fixed through Sheikh Ahmed's network or corruption-inducing offshore company(ies). He does this over the wishes of honest countries who vote for more practical venues and for other sporting organisations decisions on merit and without regard to corrupt kickbqck payments Ahmed may be a violent dangerous criminal;. but he is not stupid.

Obviously Ahmed needs to go to prison; both the United States and several other countries with high rule of law despise him for his dirty relations with poverty-stricken and corruption-laden regimes;; and the United States is taking the lead l, with FBI and US Department of Justice. investigations into him.

The election of Qatar as the FIFA World Cup venue for 2022 is absurd. Here are just some reasons why:

  1. It is too hot to play football, or to watch it, even with the date moved to Qatar's winter.

  2. Qatar has stringent laws against drinking alcohol, something which football supporters across the world like doing. Indeed it is a serious crime to be in a public place having consumed alcohol;. or to consume alcohol in a public place (such as in a sports stadium). We do not criticise Qatar for this or any other legal rules we cite below; we simply invite the reader to agree that in light of these rules Qatar is an absurd place to host a FIFA World Cup.

  3. All drugs are strictly illegal in Qatar; yet soft drug use at least (e.g. cannabis) is common for fans in association with watching football matches, particularly in Europe and parts of North America where cannabis consumption is legal. The possession or consumption of cannabis in Qatar can lead to extended sentences of imprisonment.

  4. Qatar strictly outlaws homosexuality and homosexual acts with stiff prison sentences; a substantial proportion of international soccer fans are homosexual (probably about 10 per cent, the same as in the broader population as a whole in any particular country).

  5. Qatar outlaws immodest clothing, particularly on women. Given that it is so hot, what Qatar defines as immodest clothing is virtually guaranteed to be worn by the greater majority of female soccer fans attending the tournament. Hence half the global population - women - will be effectively excluded. The Qatar tournament is being held in grossly sexist and discriminatory conditions by international standards.

  6. Qatar has little in the way or budget accommodation, being one of the most expensive cities in the world, thereby excluding all soccer fans but the very wealthiest who can afford five star hotels.

  7. Qatar has swingeing immigration restrictions - and they are becoming more swingeing during the 2022 World Cup. A special Islamic permit must be pre-applied for, which includes a preliminary vetting process. Hence large proportions of the World Cup's fans will be excluded from entry as a practical matter by this complex vetting regime which requires inter alia visitore to have high-end hotel reservations.

  8. Qatar is a very expensive place to fly to. Qatar Airways is one of the world's most expensive airlines, and there are insufficient alternative options to meet demand.

  9. Qatar itself is also a very expensive place for basic standard of living commodities such as food.

  10. It is illegal for visitors gs to Qatar to buy alcohol in shops or to import it into the country whether in 'duty free' circumstances or otherwise. All bags are searched for alcohol on entry.

  11. Alcohol, generally available only in five-star hotel bars in Doha, is obscenely expensive in Qatar

  12. Doha has virtually no nightlife at all to keep visiting soccer fans entertained..

The dirty deal Sheikh Ahmed has engineered to hold the FIFA World Cup in Qatar is not just outrageously corrupt. It is socially absurd. With all respect to Qataris, their values, and their political system, none of which it is the purpose of this article to contest, Qatar is a wholly inappropriate place to host a FIFA World Cup tournament. And all this has come about because of Sheikh Ahmed's rampant corruption in his domination of international sporting public bodies. Let us hope that the United States puts him behind bars sooner rather than later.

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