GIn the air-conditioned glass towers of Doha, ewiss registered the fact that a wave of unease is building up in some European countries in the autumn days one year before the start of the soccer World Cup in Qatar. In view of the still difficult human rights situation, sponsors of the Danish national team want to dispense with their logos on the team’s clothing during the tournament and give the players space for political messages.
Reports are circulating about a conversation between Manuel Neuer and the FC Bayern club management, in which the national goalkeeper inquired about the situation in Qatar and then allegedly questioned his employer’s business relationship with the country. Resistance to the sponsorship of the state airline Qatar Airways, which advertises on the shirt sleeves of the Munich-based company, is also growing among the members of the record champions. And around the first Formula 1 race in Qatar on Sunday (3 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker on Formula 1 and on Sky), world champion Lewis Hamilton pointed out the human rights violations: “When there are problems in the countries we visit , then we have to talk about it as a sport (…). We can provide the spotlight that can accelerate change. “
Such stories and statements do not make a big splash in Qatar. The investments of the small country on the Persian Gulf, in which the next soccer world champion will be determined between November 21 and December 18, 2022, are considered a great success in this country. The massive criticism “especially in the German, English and Scandinavian media does not change the fact that Qatar is now ‘on the map'”, says Professor Danyel Reiche from Georgetown University in Doha, which, like almost everything in the country, receives Qatari state money is financed.
The German scientist sits in front of his laptop in the capital and talks about life in the desert. The leisure options are impressive, he says. And the fact that you have to apply for a license for the few shops where you can buy alcohol is not a big problem. Unlike in other countries on the Arabian Peninsula, you can drink your glass of wine on the balcony without becoming a public nuisance. Reiche also speaks and researches about the human rights situation as part of a scientific project on the “Effects of the staging of the World Cup on the social, political and economic development of Qatar as well as on regional and global affairs”.
Qatar is spectacularly successful with its sports strategy, for which the term “sportswashing” has recently been used based on “greenwashing” and “pinkwashing”. Reiche says, however, that this word creation “falls far too short in order to consider the complexity of the motives for such investments”. The image of “sportswashing” gives “the impression that a country is investing a lot in sport in order to divert attention from human rights violations”. But that is by no means the case. The more important motives behind the billions invested in sport are security, future viability, returns and influence in the global power structure.
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