The 2022 World Cup, the ideal soft power tool for Qatar?

The eyes of the whole world are riveted on the Arabian Peninsula. While the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, to be followed every day on Europe 1 official radio, started on November 20, sports geopolitics specialist Jean-Baptiste Guégan takes stock of the “soft power” of the emirate through this World Cup. A Qatari edition which has already caused a lot of ink to flow due to the death of many workers for the construction of stadiums, the air conditioning in the enclosures or the ban on the sale of beer near the stadiums.

At the microphone ofMidday Europe Weekend, Jean-Baptiste Guégan stresses that it is an “exceptional World Cup, disproportionate on all fronts – stakes, media coverage, criticism – so we are not immune to problems occurring” , he says to Lénaïg Monier. “We are also not immune to the fact that there are real difficulties on the spot”, he adds.

A work on “the present and also the future”

If the organization of such an event is a challenge for Qatar, whose area is slightly smaller than that of Île-de-France, the emirate is setting out to conquer an “image issue”. The Qataris “are working on the present and also the future. They have every interest in ensuring that things go as well as possible, and they do everything for that”, notes the sports geopolitics specialist, author of a published atlas published by Otherwise.

However, Jean-Baptiste Guégan believes that between “the ban on the sale of alcohol two days before the start, and the history of supporters paid to come, then all the problems that have accompanied this World Cup since the designation of Qatar , it’s still not won”.

Organizing successfully despite many obstacles

In reality, for the geopolitician of sport, “obtaining this World Cup is already a victory. The fact that (the Qataris) arrive at the organizer is a second”, he assures, recalling in which context is the organization of the 2022 World Cup for the emirate. “Between the blockade of golf between 2017 and 2021, the Covid crisis, there were a lot of obstacles, in addition to criticism. Organizing it is already the icing on the cake, afterwards, this must demonstration is going well”, tempers Jean-Baptiste Guégan.

The specialist recalls that Qatar “has put a lot of resources to make this happen”. Indeed, according to the latest estimates from Front Office Sport, the gas emirate has spent more than 220 billion dollars (about 210 billion euros).

“Presumably, the world will follow” this World Cup

If calls for a boycott have been numerous, especially in favorable countries, the sports geopolitician anticipates good audiences for the competition. “Presumably, the world will follow (this World Cup). (…) When you look at Africa, Asia and the rest of the world, the question of the boycott does not arise. People want to see the first football event of selections. We will see if there will be problems, but the proven experience that people will watch”, analyzes Jean-Baptiste Guégan for Europe 1.

However, in sporting terms, the 2022 World Cup got off to a bad start for the Qatar national team. The players of the emirate lost as soon as they entered in lice against Ecuador (2-0), in a match where they were clearly dominated by their opponents. The Qatari selection will seek to avoid disappointment against Senegal and the Netherlands, their next opponents in Group A.


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