Qatar left too much out

But now that the show is coming to an end and we’re starting to wipe the twinkle from our eyes, it’s hard to see the game as a giant vanity project-cum-promotional campaign for the hosts and FIFA signaling in the most cynical form of virtue.

Qatar’s population is about the same as that of Newcastle or Geelong, minus the lower classes. But they are rich. J. Paul Getty’s money-making secret is to “get up early, work hard, and work hard.” Qatar did this and discovered natural gas, so in a very short period of time they built a city-state out of deserts. Doha has tripled in size since winning the World Cup bid in 2010.

Traditional boats, known as dhows, against the backdrop of the skyscrapers of the Doha Corniche. The city has undergone extraordinary development over the past 20 years.

Traditional boats, known as dhows, against the backdrop of the skyscrapers of the Doha Corniche. The city has undergone extraordinary development over the past 20 years.Credit:Bloomberg

One of the large malls that Doha life revolves around is stylized as a Venice, complete with canals and gondoliers. That’s apt. Venice, too, is small but obsessed with global domination and getting rich.

So, what do you give to the courtier who has it all? Why not the World Cup? As it happens, they can take it or leave it. They arrive late to games, leave early and keep to themselves. During my 2.5 weeks in Doha, I dealt almost exclusively with migrant workers. I’ve only heard a Qatari once say that he insulted a Bangladeshi hotel worker who misplaced his luggage.

A typical crowd for the Qatar Star League is less than 1,000 people. Don’t expect to find verification easily. There are few records online and nonexistent now. But all previous digs in the A-League have been withdrawn in this column.

Major events previously lured here for the cash splash – including the 2011 Asian Cup and the 2019 Athletics World Championships – have also been avoided. Qatar isn’t crazy about football; it’s crazy about the status it brings. It’s not a sports fanatic, it’s a sports wash fanatic.

Qatar fans during the World Cup opener between the hosts and Ecuador.

Qatar fans during the World Cup opener between the hosts and Ecuador.Credit:Bloomberg

The stadiums are remarkable works of art in their own right, but that doesn’t change the fact that they have a level of luxury that even the Olympics can’t boast. They dotted the flat land like modern pyramids. What are they going to do now? In the first blueprint, they will be shipped together to ports in Africa and beyond. One of them, Stadium 974, was apparently designed for demolition.

As for the rest, take away the National Museum of Qatar: “As part of its commitment to promoting football in developing countries, Qatar has committed to shipping equipment and seats from its stadiums to other countries after the World Cup.”

So Hulk is here to stay. After a nuclear holocaust, future civilizations on Earth will look at this set of stadiums and assume they are some kind of place of worship. They will be right.

FIFA is getting more than it ever intended with this dream World Cup (FIFA’s dream is to make money endlessly). Like the IOC, it usually has sovereignty over the newest host nation. Qatar has none of these. FIFA staff are marginalized in terms of formalities, ambassadors are appointed but almost ignored—— Australia’s Tim Cahill is one of them – The media is rarely told.

Two more migrant workers died unexpectedly during the race, each announced days later and with few details. “We are in the midst of the World Cup, is this something you want to talk about now?” asked the Supreme Council’s Nasser al-Khater. “I mean, death is a natural part of life, whether it’s at work, or in our sleep…it’s odd that it’s something you want to focus on as the first question.”

When Qatar cracked down on human rights protests by players and fans, FIFA joined in.Then on the eve of the game, Qatar canceled Deals for the sale of alcohol at venues. Sports can drink a little less beer, but the ban is not on health or public safety grounds. This is ideological.

In retrospect, Blatter said, Qatar was simply too small to host the World Cup on its own. This is a fact. Qatar is Doha, and Doha is a fantasy land, a supermall nestled within a maze of highways.

Doha could make sense as a host city for the Pan-Arab World Cup. But cramming an entire show into this enclave is a failure. Not that Qatar’s rulers are intimidated; they are now post-Olympics and may even be in tandem with their great political and sporting purge rivals, Saudi Arabia.

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