World Cup: Qatar winning more friends amidst racist attacks

“Since we won the honour of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar has been subjected to an unprecedented campaign that no host country has faced.”

Overburdened by the ceaseless but baseless campaign against the state of Qatar, the country’s ruler, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani made the remark last week at the Arab League Summit which was held in Algeria.

However, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel as the state of Qatar has, of late, been receiving encouraging reports and endorsements from across the globe following equally encouraging reforms on the country’s labour laws and human rights record. The state of Qatar has won more friends. Last week, Qatar received the strongest regional support ever, in the form of the Arab League

It is said, ‘charity begins at home. Nothing can be farther from the truth as the Arab League, Qataris primary constituency has pledged its total support in order that Qatar will succeed in its bid to give the world a World Cup never experienced before.

The 22-member bloc confirmed its ‘support’ for the Gulf nation and showed ‘total confidence in its ability to organise the tournament. The Arab League’s member states, who adopted the resolution unanimously, confirmed “our total rejection of the baseless campaign of defamation against” Qatar. The bloc went further to blame the various campaigns and criticisms against Qatar on racism and because it was an Arab country.

This has been shown in studies on the 2014 South Africa World Cup and the 1996 Indian Cricket World Cup. The South African government even blamed the coverage in the British press as one of the reasons for a reduction in expected numbers for the South Africa World Cup. When it comes to the Middle East, numerous studies of UK media have found that it tends to represent Muslims and Arabs

Last month, Qatar’s emir said the country was facing an “unprecedented campaign” of criticism ahead of the November 20 kick-off.

“They don’t want to allow a small country, an Arab country, an Islamic country, to organise the World Cup,” said Al Marri.

Some of the advances made by the Qatari government to appease the critical and skeptical western world include the creation of a Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund in 2018, to compensate workers that had not been paid. At one point, Al Marri claimed that this year alone $320 million has been disbursed.

“If there is a person entitled to compensation who has not received it, they should come forward and we will help them,” added Al Marri.

Echoing the Emir of Qatar who last month claimed the country was facing an “unprecedented campaign”, Al Marri claimed that some critics acted through “racism”.

Vice President of the European Parliament (EP) Eva Kaili considered that the State of Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup 2022 constitutes an opportunity for Qatar to show the international community its various achievements and represents a unique opportunity for Qatar to obtain international recognition of the role it plays, especially in the field of the labor market, which is praised by the European Parliament.

Her Excellency added that she is well aware of the great progress achieved by Qatar in the field of the labor market. She added that she met with representatives from the International Labor Organization (ILO) office in Qatar, who confirmed that Qatar could be a role model for the countries of the region and beyond in that field.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s endorsement by the international community has been underlined by the numerous deployment of foreign police, military personnel and even special forces in Doha and other parts of the country ahead of the Mundial. Qatar 2022 World Cup has drawn in a multi-nation security force for the tournament. More than a dozen nations will help to police the 1.2 million fans expected to attend.

The host nation, which faces a shortage of personnel, will draft in gendarmes from France and riot police from Turkey, among others. So far, the following countries have confirmed their participation in the security effort for the November 20 to December 18 tournament: Germany, Finland, France, Jordan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the US and the UK.

Chief Constable Mark Roberts of the British Police deployed in Qatar has said their job was not to tell fans how to behave. Roberts said it is unclear about how exactly Qatar’s police force will treat visitors because of the Gulf state’s strict cultural laws and whether supporters will be criminalised for acts such as displaying rainbow flags.

“The focus is to try and prevent unfortunate misunderstandings where fans inadvertently cause offence,” said Roberts. “Our officers will be there to engage, speak to local law enforcement about what they find acceptable, and communicate that to supporters. We are not here to judge.”

This is the first World Cup to be held in a Muslim country and the first to be staged in and around a single city – Doha. At least 6,000 England and Wales fans are expected to be among the anticipated 1.2 million visitors.

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