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Friday, February 26, 2021

Is FIFA on the wrong side of the Arab Spring?

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Qatar should share the World Cup with poorer Arab countries, Jerusalem-based journalist and Wall Street Journal/Marketwatch columnist Amotz Asa-El asserts this week in a commentary piece that is sure to ruffle some feathers here in Doha.

Still, it’s worth hearing out what Asa-El has to say.

The Qataris and FIFA must reshape the World Cup as the Arab Cup, a visionary event that will help bridge Arab social gaps rather than symbolize them.

The journalist said this can be accomplished in two ways: Firstly, to let Arabs build and run the games. (Currently, Qatar is employing a mostly expat workforce to construct the infrastructure needed before 2022). And secondly, considering holding some of the games elsewhere in the Arab world.

Neither of these ideas is going to sit well with Qatar. But perhaps there is some way to make the World Cup 2022 a victory and source of pride for all Arab nations, not just one tiny wealthy one.

In his concluding remarks, Asa-El says:

Now, if left as an exclusively Qatari affair, World Cup 2022 will be counted alongside megalomaniacal projects like Libya’s Man-Made River, the United Arab Emirates’ artificial islands, and Dubai’s Burj Khalifa skyscraper — all of which symbolize the Arab moneyed elite’s misuse of its fortunes, which could be used to educate, house and employ desperate Arabs from Casablanca to Damascus.

Read his full op-ed here.

What do you guys think? One commenter has already hit back at the piece, saying:

You can’t judge history through a lens focused on today…

Kind of like how the Nobel committee looks silly for giving Obama a Peace Prize right before he left the troops in Iraq, sent more troops to Afghanistan, started bombing Libya…a little more peace on the planet and only cockroaches will be left.

Share your thoughts with us! Does 2022 belong to Qatar? Or to all Arab countries?

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