by Tony Attwood
The Supreme Committee of the World Cup is clearly getting a bit worried about the number of fans that the TV cameras might show watching, or perhaps that should be not watching, the matches in the stadia during the forthcoming celebration of the lack of human rights and football’s willingness to take money from anywhere.
Of course, Qatar starts with a disadvantage, in that it has a native population of under three million, compared with (for example) over 67 million in the UK. That is to say, it is four per cent of the UK’s population.
But there’s also a second problem because half of the population of Qatar aren’t people at all. They are women. Now it is true that on behalf of the Qatar government the deputy secretary general of the 2022 World Cup Organizing Committee, Nasser Al Khater, said: “In Qatar, we have no restrictions on women’s access to the stadium. They have been attending matches for a long time.” Whether one believes that statement or not is another matter.
But anyway, Qatar has started to invite fans from various countries to attend the World Cup for free. And even that offer has flopped.
The issue that deters people of course is in part that of human rights and the fate of migrant workers who built the stadia, although the Qatar government now appear to be dismissing this as fake news. Gianni Infantino, head of Fifa, and now relocated to Qatar (which has no extradition treaty with Switzerland where he is wanted to “help police with their investigations”) recently dismissed criticism of human rights and other such non-footballing matters with a wave of the hand.
Which says a lot about Fifa and Infantino.
And now the “Supreme Committee” (which sounds like something out of Blake’s 7, if you are English and can remember that far back), has invited all the countries who have ignored the human rights issues and decided to go, to find 50 fans to go to the games of their country, all expenses paid.
So yes, it is the flight, the hotel and two weeks or more of wonderful tourism, free of charge, as long as those involved ignore the fact that Qatar is awash with stories of tenants being forcibly removed from their homes so that the owners can rent properties out to incoming tourists. Oh yes and the individuals involved have to act in an appropriate manner and say appropriate things at the events they were will required to attend.
For as the Swiss newspaper Blick points out, there is a catch. Because “Supporters must stay in Qatar for at least 14 days from November 20, [and] throughout your stay, you are expected to participate in events selected and planned by the Supreme Committee.”
When the giveaway offer was advertised in Switzerland only ten people applied for the 50 tickets.
Now there are several reasons why this might be the case. First, as anyone in the advertising industry will tell you, if an offer looks too good to be true, people think it is too good to be true.
Second, running an advertisement like this, with such a short period of time before the WC takes place cuts out most people who will already have a few things in their diaries.
And third the participants will be expected to attend those events arranged by the Supreme Committee, and of course say how wonderful they all are, and how fantastic Qatar is, and how everyone seems jolly and free and having a good time, and “I’m sure the ladies are having a good time too,” although without saying, “I must admit I haven’t met any.”
To its eternal shame, the Football Association of England is participating in the event. But then with the FA what else would you expect?
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