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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Minister calls for reform of Qatar’s sports clubs

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Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser Al Ali, Qatar's sports minister.
Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser Al Ali, Qatar’s sports minister.

Qatar’s Minister for Youth and Sports has called for a shake-up of the country’s sports clubs, reportedly criticizing they way they are run as “outdated” and demanding strict government scrutiny of their spending.

Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser Al Ali has proposed a package of reforms intended to modernize the management of the clubs, which would make them more transparent and give more power to the chairman, rather than the boards.

His comments came while speaking at the second meeting of the Advisory Council’s culture and media committee. The committee has been tasked with preparing a report on the draft law which amends law No. 5 of 1984 governing sports clubs, The Peninsula reports.

There are currently 18 official sports clubs in Qatar, according to Qatar Olympic Committee, many of which started off as small football clubs before growing into professional, multi-sport organizations.

They are all wholly funded by the Qatari government and many are led by prominent Qataris. That includes Lekhwiya SC, which is owned by the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Proposals

Announcing his plans for change, Al Ali is quoted in local Arabic newspaper Al Sharq as saying: “(The) majority of the sports clubs in Qatar have debts of tens of millions of riyals and their administrative system is outdated.

“One of the reasons for amending the law is that currently there is no proper system to make the club administrations accountable and ensure proper monitoring.”

Qatar has invested heavily in trying to inculcate a sporting culture in the country to improve the health and fitness among its people – more than three-quarters of whom are overweight – as well as unify the country’s multi-ethnic population and bolster Qatar’s credentials as an international sporting hub.

However Al Ali accused clubs of being managed “behind the curtains” with boards which never meet. His new law proposes that club chairmen be elected by a general assembly and be given powers to recruit and assign staff.

All clubs funded by the government would have to submit their accounts to the Ministry for audit purposes.

“The current amendment aims to give more powers to sports clubs and monitor implementation of the government’s sports strategies because the government is funding implementation,” the Minister is reported to have said.

However some members of the Advisory Council reportedly expressed reservations about giving so much power to club chairmen. At its meeting on Monday, it did not accept the proposals, but called for a second opinion on the plans.

Controversy

While many of the bigger clubs have found success through various sports, football still dominates the budget, fan support and media attention for most and they spend millions attempting to attract international talent to bolster their success.Zahir Belounis

But they have also drawn controversy in recent years. French-Algerian player Zahir Belounis came to Qatar in 2007, but after initial success, became embroiled in a battle with El-Jaish football club over what he claimed were two years of unpaid wages.

He alleged mistreatment by “two or three people” within the club and the dispute became a political issue concerning the country’s sponsorship (kafala) system as he was unable to secure an exit visa to leave Qatar for 10 months, until his final departure in December 2013.

Meanwhile, French-born Moroccan Abdessalam Ouadoo, who left Qatar at the end of 2012 after playing for Lekhwiya, also claimed his club owed him five months of wages and made other allegations of ill-treatment and threats to withhold his exit visa unless he withdrew complaints against the club.

Sporting culture

Authorities in Qatar are trying hard to instill a love of sport and have introduced a number of initiatives such as National Sport Day and the Schools’ Olympics Program as a way of encouraging more people to be active.

At the 2013 Qatar Olympic Committee Sports Day Village
At the 2013 Qatar Olympic Committee Sports Day Village

Additionally, efforts to shape Qatar as the go-to destination in the region for hosting major, international sporting events have gained some ground.

The country is currently hosting the Men’s Handball World Championship and recently secured rights to host the 2019 World Championships in Athletics.

However, both those events pale in comparison to the size and scope of the 2022 World Cup.

With preparations for the football tournament in full swing, some sports observers are turning their attention to the on-field performance of Qatar’s national team, which failed to advance past the group stage of this month’s Asian Games.

Reuters reported that this bodes poorly for the country’s chances of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, raising the prospect of Qatar becoming the first nation in nearly 90 years to host the international football tournament without having ever previously played in it.

Thoughts?

24 COMMENTS

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Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago

Privatization is the solution.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

Lol they’d go bust in a week.. How will they make a penny? Fan turnout? Jersey sales? Nike endorsements?

Nasser
Nasser
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

No. But renting venues will give them millions. Plus, some clubs went on investments in property and such to secure asset and income.

Isam alkhaldi
Isam alkhaldi
6 years ago

(((((Al Sharq quoted the minister as saying)))))..wish every one to get this VIP treatment
Thanks Doha News for proving your double standard over and over again

Shabzed
Shabzed
6 years ago

Instilling a sports culture is a slow and gradual process. You cant expect a whole country coming to Stadium & watch and support the sport overnight. It may take decades. If Qatar want to become a international sporting hub, she need to develop long term, sustainable plans.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago

Football clubs are funded by the government? Really?
And the Emir himself owns a football club? This is really weird, and I am not sure you can find similar things in other countries. And is FIFA actually aware of this? Because I know they are kind of strict when it comes to mixing politics with football.

After reading this I totally agree with the Minister. A deep shake-up is needed. If Qataris like football they have to invest their money, time and efforts in it. It is none of the business of the government. The government has to provide facilities and that’s it.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Fifa woke up to the dangers of having so many clubs owned and run by political forces after the deadly football riots in Egypt, notably the horrific Port Siad football massacre in 2012 where over 70 fans were killed at the match.

Most of the teams in Egypt are owned by either the government or the military, and with no other viable sources of funding this is the way it is likely to stay for the time being.

Government ownership of football clubs is common in the Middle East, it’s just that no one likes to talk about it.

Osama Alassiry AlMaadeed
Reply to  Yacine

Nothing political about the government here… It’s not politics.

Misha
Misha
6 years ago

I wonder how many people already have run off with money. Glad thus minister is trying to get these administrations audited.
Now if the sports culture is in part to change the obeisty issue, they are focusing on the wrong thing. Nutrition initiatives should be the focus.

Deepak Babu
Deepak Babu
6 years ago
Reply to  Misha

True nutrition would be more effective, but then he is the Minister for Youth and Sports.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  Misha

Yep, read between the lines. The Minister is trying to address the problem of money being wasted at sports clubs – the days of blank checks and big spending gimmicks are over.

Misha
Misha
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

Yes, I got that. I just wonder how much has been wasted and how much have found its way in peoples pockets. Unfortunately this is nothing new here.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  Misha

Most of the prominent headlines concerning Qatari football clubs were to do with money NOT ending up in the pockets of the people who had played for it – Zahir Belounis & Abdessalam Ouadoo.

Misha
Misha
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

There are two issues 1) given a blank check budget with no controls or checks and balances which is used on legitimate expenses but overspending (like to organize an event). 2) Using part of that budget for personal use or fraud.

I am referring to the second instance. When I mean in people’s pockets I don’t mean the people who were promised a specific salary or have earned it. I mean people who cheat the system or skim a bit here or there. Whether the administration is doing that or not, they are responsible for the finance management of the club (or at least they are supposed to be responsible for it).

Pete
Pete
6 years ago

Err…why is vesting power with one person (The Chairman) better than a board? I would have thought the opposite was true.

Nuremburg
Nuremburg
6 years ago
Reply to  Pete

You’re right. The Peninsula article referenced to states that this is because ‘boards do not regularly meet’. Hmm… this sounds like one of the ‘outdated’ practices that Qatari football is embroiled in. Why does Qatar not arrange for regular board meetings? Does it tread on their historically conservative political sensitivities?

Joe
Joe
6 years ago

Spoiled brats expensive toys.

Wasted billions on a show that turned into total failure !

Typical of newly rich gulf region.

Althani
Althani
6 years ago
Reply to  Joe

Damn, your life sucks

Joe
Joe
6 years ago
Reply to  Althani

Just shows the manners that you were taught !

Althani
Althani
6 years ago
Reply to  Joe

I know, I’m so rude! My language is horrible

Diego
Diego
6 years ago

It is not unlike many Government funded organization(s) in many Countries.The intent is good but then the waste and unaccountability gets in the way leading to financial restraint/constraint.If the financial issue doesn’t catch up first,then it might need some bad PR to get the attention that starts the change ball rolling.

Edward
Edward
6 years ago

This seems like a good initiative to reduce corruption, promote transparency, and instill accountability. The same could be said for all government-owned or quasi-government enterprises (which is most of the “private” sector in Qatar). But does the elite class have the incentive or even the will to ever change things? I see no evidence of that.

Nuremburg
Nuremburg
6 years ago
Reply to  Edward

No. Take a look at all Qatari-owned organizations, and you will see that most of them are ruled by members of the ruling family.

wee_johnnie
wee_johnnie
6 years ago

I wonder how long Doha Rugby Club will be permitted to continue serving alcohol…..

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