World Cup money, drama and fans focus a white-hot global spotlight on Qatar
“A lot of the pressure is coming from the fans,” said Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Ahmed al-Thani in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal. “But a lot of the pressure is also coming from the FIFA, the U.N. and the other stakeholders. I am sure that they are already thinking about this problem in a very serious way.”
The issue certainly doesn’t take up much of the attention of the international media, much less the world’s soccer community. But even in the face of Qatar’s obvious human rights abuses, it seems fair to say the tournament has gone beyond even the pressure from the fans to an actual investigation into the country’s financial support for the Qatari government. The issue has reached a crisis point with the threat of a boycott, and now the World Cup may be only the first step down FIFA’s long and bloody road to resolving the issue.
“The Qataris have to come clean about the money and I call on FIFA to hold them accountable for the terrible human rights violations they have committed in the last 10 years,” said Al Jazeera editor-in-chief Mohamed Ssent al-Khayat.
“This is a big and very complicated story. It is an issue for Qatar and the World Cup and it’s not going to take a lot of time,” Ssent al-Khayat said recently. “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of how long it takes.”
As a result of the World Cup and the Qatar crisis, Qatar has lost a lot of the public support it once had. And while Qatar’s fans have remained a crucial part of the tournament’s success, it seems impossible for fans to continue to show up and cheer for Qatar as long as they continue to be victimized. While the country’s human rights record has been widely documented, the public’s support has been far different. From