Soroor Ahmed sees through the ramifications of FIFA World Cup in Qatar and underlines the scope for the post-tournament social, political and economic analyses.
Though the FIFA World Cup in Qatar ended on a positive note and left some lasting impact, there still remains some scope for the post-tournament social, political and economic analyses.
Such big jamborees do not only provide an opportunity for various countries to exhibit their sporting excellence but also give a chance to understand a different type of games being played in the world.
WESTERN DOUBLE STANDARD
For example, when the Iranian footballers refuse to sing the national anthem during their first match with England to express their solidarity towards the protest movement in their own country, the western media made it a big issue. But they did not highlight the fact that the players and spectators from Morocco openly defied their own government’s policy on Israel and raise voices in favour of Palestinians and waved their flag after every match they played.
Two years back, in December 2020, Morocco and Israel normalised their relationship and the former signed a security understanding agreement with the Jewish state on November 24, 2021. The United States played a very crucial role in brokering this pact. Washington, in return, supported Morocco’s claim on Western Sahara.
The Polisario Front has been fighting for the independence of Western Sahara with the help of Algeria. This region had been in occupation of Spain till 1975. Now Morocco annexed a large part of Western Sahara.
Algeria, in August 2021, snapped its ties with Morocco some months after the US decision to support the latter. Spain, which in fact had colonised the Western Sahara, now backs Morocco’s position. All this just because the monarch in Rabat decided to become friend of Israel. Angry Algeria, the main supplier of gas to Spain, cancelled its 20-year long friendship treaty with Madrid.
The action of the average Moroccans and their players in Qatar is quite contrary to the policy of the government. Not only this, in spite of the Abraham Accord signed between Israel and some Arab countries, for example UAE and Bahrain, there was general Arab support for the cause of Palestinians. This aspect was underplayed by the international media for obvious reasons.
RETURN OF MIGRANT LABOURS
The World Cup attracted a large number of labours, especially from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. There were reports of exploitation of these work forces – a common phenomenon across the planet – yet the 28-day long show provided lakhs of jobs. Now there is fear that a large number of them may be sent back to their respective countries as there is no work left. The World Cup was allotted to Qatar way back in 2010 and since then the economic activities increased. As there was construction boom, it attracted a lot of engineers, safety managers, and other skilled and semi-skilled workers.
Incidentally, these economic activities came as a saving grace for many as pandemic and subsequent global recession rendered millions of people unemployed.
The countries of South Asia in particular may witness a fall in remittance money if the labourers return to their homes. Besides, they would further aggravate the job crisis in their respective countries.
Sadly, the layoff will come when almost all these South Asian countries are facing serious economic crisis. Sri Lanka and Pakistan passed through turmoil while Bangladesh and Nepal (where election was held recently) are facing political uncertainty.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine further fuelled the economic crisis in the world, especially in densely populated countries of South Asia.
WHAT WILL BE THE FALL-OUT IN QATAR?
The Qataris will have to adjust to the post-World Cup situation. Though it was accused of lavish spending – 12 to 15 times more than the previous World Cups held in Russia and Brazil in 2018 and 2014 – yet it is also a fact that this global event was much better organised than many previous ones.
It needs to be mentioned that such sporting festivals do have severe economic fall-out. For instance, it took 30 years for Canada to repay the loan taken for the 1976 Montreal Olympic. Greece turned bankrupt after the 2004 Olympic.
Charges of corruption are also levelled before and after such big extravaganza. It was also alleged that Qatar got the World Cup when it bribed the FIFA top brass.
In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, along with United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, cut ties with Qatar on the charge of backing Islamic terrorists’ outfits. The Saudis imposed economic blockade on Qatar. Iran came to its rescue then.
This sudden severing of ties landed the then Donald Trump administration in a fix as US Central Command base is situated in Qatar.
It was then alleged that Saudis were actually jealous of Qatar getting the FIFA World Cup. Five years later the Saudi team played here and defeated none else but Argentina in the first game.
DELHI COMMONWEALTH GAMES
Many politicians and officials were blamed for largescale corruption after the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in Delhi. The campaign of India Against Corruption started in April 2011 led to the decline of Congress, both in Delhi and India. Though the movement started with the fast by anna Hazare, the main political beneficiary was Arvind Kejriwal, who emerged as the chief minister of the state a couple of years later. He dislodged the 15 years long Sheila Dikshit government. Today he and his Aam Aadmi Party are nursing a much bigger ambition.
Nationally the weakening of Congress created a political vacuum which the Bharatiya Janata Party filled. However, if Greece and India witnessed political upheaval after big games, it does not necessarily mean that Qatar too may face the same predicament. Several other countries have utilised such opportunity to market their own culture, ideology, religion and political objective.