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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Debate over Qatar’s policy of recruiting, naturalizing foreign athletes hits home


The debate over Qatar’s liberal recruitment of foreign athletes for its national sports teams, long a focus of international criticism, is now finally hitting home.

In two separate pieces on the subject, local sports website Doha Stadium Plus has delved into the controversial policy, which raised eyebrows most recently during the IHF Super Globe Handball Championship.

Both of Qatar’s teams fared well during the games, with Al Sadd finishing third and El Jaish fifth.

And both teams drew the ire of international observers for recruiting seven European professionals each, DSP reports:

“Earlier this year, the IHF limited the number of professional players, on short-term contracts of two months each, to three per team at the Super Globe. 

“Qatari teams circumvented the decision by signing three players on short-term contracts and four others for two months and a day each. Technically, they didn’t break any rules. But I can’t say it helped improve the tournament’s credibility,” said an IHF insider, on condition of anonymity.

To be fair, Europe does produce some of the world’s best handball players, IHF President Dr. Hassan Moustafa told DSP.

“Who would like to see European clubs clobber their opponents by 20 to 25 goals?” he asked.

But it shouldn’t just be about winning, DSP Editor-in-Chief Dr. Ahmed Al Mohannadi argued in a recent editorial:

It may be recalled that in our eagerness to achieve instant glory, we’ve made some strategic mistakes, like naturalising a few athletes and footballers, in the past. Though everything was done as per norms, we were criticised by every Tom, Dick and Harry. We’re still paying the price for it as a hostile section of the media is haunting us every now and then.

Let’s not make such mistakes again. Let’s bide our time and develop our own champions and stop basking on reflected glory.


Credit: Photo by Doha Stadium Plus

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