Qatar’s Football War


Ever since winning the right to host the 2022
World Cup, Qatar has been the source of an almost constant and negative stream of press. From high level political gas deals and allegations
of corruption surrounding the vote back in 2010 to widespread reports of human rights
abuses concerning the migrant work force that is building the stadiums and infrastructure
of the tournament. So far, Qatar’s teflon World Cup has managed
to survive. But Qatar’s tournament is still under threat,
and not because of any of the things we have mentioned before, at least not directly. The tournament has become the central pawn
in a global political battle between Qatar and its neighbours Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE – where
Manchester City’s owner Sheikh Mansour is one of the most powerful economic and political
figures – were the leading countries in a five nation coalition that cut all ties
with Qatar. All trade was banned. Borders were closed. Flights between the countries stopped. Families were separated. Qatar called it a “blockade”. The move brought temporary chaos to Qatar. Supermarket shelves were emptied, and the
country’s vast reserves were used to counter any damage. The country spent billions of dollars, and
re-routed supply chains to keep construction on the World Cup going. What brought Qatar’s neighbours to such a
drastic course of actions? The official explanation was Qatar’s alleged
support for terrorist movements in the Middle East and its close links to Iran, a Shia theocracy
viewed as a historic enemy and an existential threat to Sunni Saudi Arabia in particular. But the truth is much more complex, and opaque. It is a story of jealousy and greed. Of Trump and failed deals. Of hacking and propaganda wars. Of Al Jazeera and the competing whims and
thin skins of a new generation of Arab leaders. Of pirated football streams and a trench full
of nuclear waste. More on that later. The case against Qatar, that it funds terrorism,
is a strange charge to levy, given that Saudi Arabia has been accused in the past of using
its financial clout from owning the world’s biggest oil reserves to spread its unwavering
form of Islam across the world. But Saudi Arabia has taken a new, more muscular
path with its foreign policy, under its young Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman. Since rising to power he has shaken up Saudi
society, lifting the ban on women driving in the Kingdom as well as the ban on women
watching football. On the other hand, he has also cracked down
on dissent, locking up dozens of the country’s richest men in a five star hotel until they
handed back some of their wealth as well locking up dozens of feminist activists who have long
campaigned against what has been described as Saudi Arabia’s “gender apartheid”. In the UAE, another crown prince, Mohamed
bin Zayed – the brother of Sheikh Mansour – has also been cracking down on dissent. The UAE has virtually no democracy and some
of the harshest social media laws in the world. The country’s best known human rights activist,
Ahmed Mansoor, was arrested, held incommunicado and jailed for ten years for using his social
media accounts to publish “false information” and “spread hatred and sectarianism.” The roots of the conflict can be found in
the Arab Spring, the series of uprising across the Middle East that began in Tunisia in 2010
and spread across the region. In Egypt the longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak
was removed from power after hundreds of thousands of people filled Tahrir Square. After Egypt’s first free elections, Mohamed
Morsi became president, a candidate aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood but who was also
a member. The Muslim Brotherhood is a popular political
Islamic organisation banned in much of the Middle East as it poses the biggest threat
to the Gulf’s conservative monarchies. The election of Morsi terrified the Gulf Arab
states who feared that they would be next. So much so that when Mohamed bin Zayed met
the British prime minister David Cameron in 2012, he raised the issue of the UK banning
the Brotherhood. If they didn’t, British businesses would find
difficulty in getting business from the UAE, especially when it came to arms and security
contracts. When that didn’t work, the UK’s ambassador
to the UAE was summoned to a meeting with Manchester City chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak,
who is also Mohammed bin Zayed’s right-hand man and at the heart of the UAE government. “The UK will need to consider the political
implications when three of its most important allies in the region [Egypt, Saudi Arabia
and the UAE] have taken a clear decision regarding the Mbs [Muslim Brotherhood],” the Guardian
reported Mubarak as saying. “Difficult conversations we’ve been having,
will become far more difficult. We are raising a red flag.” Qatar, meanwhile, supported the Muslim Brotherhood
and loaned Egypt billions of dollars to help prop up the Morsi government. There was also support for other Islamic groups
in the Middle East, including some that were fighting Bashar Al Assad’s government in Syria’s
civil war, a complicated patchwork of armed groups that were being funded by various outside
actors including the US and the Saudis, sometimes on the same side, sometimes against each other. But what has really antagonised Qatar’s neighbours
over the years is Al Jazeera, the freewheeling state-funded TV network based in Qatar that
aired views from dissidents that openly criticised the policies of Saudi and Emirati leaders
(whilst, of course, refraining to criticise Qatar’s own royal family who bankroll it). They accused Qatar of using Al Jazeera to
agitate opposition in their own backyards. There had been various fallings out before,
including a diplomatic break in 2014. But the election of Donald Trump as US president
presented an opportunity. The Saudis and the UAE – who had been supportive
of a Trump presidency after becoming enraged with President Barak Obama’s softening of
ties with Iran and the signing of a deal designed to stop it developing nuclear weapons – convinced
him that Qatar was the bad guy. Shortly after the blockade was announced,
Trump tweeted: “During my recent trip to the Middle East
I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!” Since then an information and economic war
has been raging, alongside some more petty moves, like the Saudi announcement that it
would build a huge trench that would separate Qatar and make it an island. It was announced that Saudi Arabia would fill
the trench with nuclear waste. There was the case of beoutQ, a TV network
that emerged over night and has brazenly been bootlegging Premier League and World Cup football
matches in Saudi Arabia. The Middle Eastern rights are held by beIN,
a Qatar owned sports network that was spun off from Al Jazeera. But Qatar’s opponents have realised the biggest
way to hurt Qatar is to take away its World Cup, in which it has invested huge resources
and political capital. When the emails of the UAE’s ambassador to
the US – Yousef al-Otaiba, a well connected scion of Washington’s political elite – were
leaked it laid bare a trail of plans aimed at diminishing Qatar’s ability to host the
World Cup, including one that would force the Qatar to share the World Cup with its
neighbours. Although apparently unconnected, FIFA president
Gianni Infantino has raised the prospect of bringing forward an expanded 48 team World
Cup for 2022. Such a move would be impossible for Qatar
to accommodate, and would force them to share the finals. It is unclear whether that move will go ahead
still. But Saudi Arabia and UAE may be deepening
its ties with FIFA. A new revamped Club World Cup that would challenge
the Champions League and bring in a staggering $25 billion was recently proposed and enthusiastically
backed by Infantino. It is believed that investors from Japan,
the US, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are behind the proposal. There have been several astroturfed human
rights groups and Twitter accounts set up to seemingly disparage and amplify Qatar’s
human rights record. Consultancies and think tanks – the provenance
of their funding unknown – have published critical reports on Qatar’s World Cup. Often, their claims have ended up being reported
in respected media outlets like the BBC and the Sunday Times. And then there was the recent launch of the
Foundation For Sports Integrity, a new anti-corruption organisation, at a glitzy event in London
full of celebrity speakers. The event focused primarily on Qatar and generated
thousands of column inches in the international media criticising Qatar 2022. But the organiser refused to say who was providing
the funding for it. Nicholas McGeehan, a worker rights activists
who has long been a critic of Qatar’s World Cup was invited to speak. “I asked for assurances it wasn’t Gulf
money – it was clear there was a lot of money behind it,” he told The Guardian. “Those assurances were given and then two
days later I was uninvited. They couldn’t give a reason as to why I
wasn’t appearing. It just yells Saudi and UAE money.” Qatar has largely managed to weather the storm
so far. It has repatriated hundred of billions of
dollars to refill its reserves and has deepened economic ties with Turkey, Iran and Oman to
make up for the loss of trade with its neighbours. The royal family has even managed to win back
Trump’s affections. A new $1 billion arms deal was announced last
year. The country’s young Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al
Thani was invited to the White House earlier this year and warmly welcomed by Trump. But that is unlikely to be the end of it. In a few months time qualification for Qatar
2022 is slated to begin. A decision on the 48 team World Cup will have
to be made before then. Qatar’s World Cup has had plenty of legitimate
criticism when it comes to human rights and worker abuses. But there is also a bigger game at play, involving
two countries whose human rights records are perhaps even worse. The only thing we know for sure, is that the
bad news stories on Qatar 2022 will continue. The question is, from where are they really
coming from?

100 thoughts on “Qatar’s Football War

  1. This puts british journalists to shame. England FA & fifa are jumping into bed with these types of people .they don't want anyone really looking into these things

  2. Qatar has been supporting islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood for a long time. The Saudis and Emiratis do NOT have a similar agency. There is a reason why countries with a strong stand against islamic terrorism such as Israel, India, Egypt or Azerbaijan tend to be friendly with Saudi Arabia and the UAE while Qatar is allied to islamists such as Hamas, Erdogan, IR Iran or the Taliban.

  3. This is real quality. I showed this to a group of people that work in an unnamed think tank specialising on security in the middle east, and none of them had considered the football dimension. Hugely impressive – keep it up!

  4. Very well thought and put together unbiased information and analysis from the back history to a 360 view of what what is happening on both hands fantastic 👍🏾

  5. Qatar don't deserve the world cup. It's a shame that they actually have it. They're not a football nation, it ruins the football season. Should be given to a footballing nation. Just shows how corrupt FIFA is.

  6. the middle east has been constantly being played by "wests" …..and the funny thing is that they have so much hate to each other to notice it.

  7. If the whole world knows these bastards cheated to get the World Cup why the hell are we still going the men in that country are so pussy they can never win anything

  8. Man we live in a sad era…
    A youtube channel that talks about football tactics has better journalism skills then traditional journalism media outlets. Excellent synopsis, well researched, and fair. Kudos to this channel.

  9. No1 will stop football going to social media abuse, we wont play if politics gets any more involved. Ignore it always ask why, none of your business then mind your might cut it spite your face

  10. This is better journalism from what you call reporting from corporate-controlled networks like CNN, Fox, BBC, etc. Keep it up! 👍🏽

  11. The Saud family are fake royals and leaches, they only care about themselves and want ultimate rule and power in the Middle East. they are lost souls and pray only to the USD

  12. Wow, America has so much power and influence that they could call the most honest man in the world a liar and the world would believe it.

    On another note, Australia was tipped to win hosting for 2022 World Cup and assurances were given to Australia until FIFA saw $$$$$$ coming from Qatar.

  13. so, you're telling us that the war in yemen is because of world cup 2022? the qatari funding of extremists around the world doesn't count? that KSA and UAE are jealous of qatar and started a long draining war just out of jealousy? are you high on crack? this is a joke.. get your facts straight or are you on their paycheck?!

  14. Fantastic piece of news. Unbiased, clear putted and shows the whole picture. If only part of the population would use other venues to acquire their daily news, we could have a much more intelligent and open minded society. Instead people lock themselves in echo chambers and only hear what they want to hear.
    thank you for the great work! very insightful!

  15. Muslim brotherhood is a terrible terrorist organization and should be banned anyway. You forgot to mention this fact. Qatar is indeed giving money to terrorists.
    Qatar's state media is directly attacking the ruling class of neighboring countries. Qatar wanted a clash with Saudi Arabia and UAE.
    It is wrong to say that someone convinced Trump of that. Those are the facts. Qatar wanted a conflict with neighboring countries and Qatar is supporting terrorism.

  16. I enjoy your videos but…you left out that the Muslim Brotherhood is also an Islamist organization seeking to install Sharia Law. Ask the Coptic population about the Morosi period in Egypt. Oh wait, many can't answer because they were murdered and their murderers giving a free hand to do so. In the Middle East there are few true Democrats and women won't receive full rights under either the existing governments or Muslim Brotherhood. And don't even get me started about LGBT rights. Qatar vs UAE/SA is a battle with no good options of outcome. But using Qatar stadiums built by slave labor is a blight on FIFA.

  17. That moment when you realise a football channel gives a better overview of world politics than all of BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, RT combined! Simply brilliant

  18. YOU ARE A LEGEND!
    Your content is always very well summarized. You make sure to deliver information in a creative and unique way.
    Your channel deserves more views.

  19. I sincerely doubt that Al-Jazeera and the next FIFA world cup award have truly much to do with the Gulf region "crisis" and the subsequent Saudi-led blockade. Ask yourself this question, "What drives our entire world in this modern economy?" Energy! But it's not enough to sell fossil fuels to the rest of the world, the natural resource must be integrated into a viable economic model, hence the petro-dollar system, or as I like to call it, the Imperial Petro-Dollar System. The "imperial" suggests US military support for the nations perpetuating this quickly-eroding and outdated model that reached its zenith in the 20th century. The recent demands of shutting down Al-Jazeera and stripping Qatar of the FIFA world cup could have surfaced years ago, considering Qatar has irked the Gulf neighbors since the 1970s. Why only since the summer of 2017 have the Saudis and Emiratis made a list of ultimatum for Qatar? The only clue you offer is the growing ties with Iran. Look at Iran's nuclear ambitions, see how it relates to energy and has nothing to do with byproducts of our society, such as news media outlets and sports events? Interestingly enough, Iran was the first country to offer itself in helping Qatar host the FIFA world cup. You see, when you become rich and powerful, like Qatar has in the last few decades, you are free to make your own decisions! Qatar is withdrawing from OPEC as we speak and is guaranteed to leave the GCC very soon, all timed perfectly during the waning years of the petro-dollar enterprise that has kept the American Empire afloat since WW2. Imminently, Qatar is quietly realigning itself with an emerging Iran, a dominant Turkey, a reawakened Russia, possibly inviting the Chinese dragon to nest in its peninsula, as well, and cooperating with the only Muslim-majority nuclear power, Pakistan. This is simply about the shifting geo-political tides in the Middle East and the beginning of new socio-economic models, such as embracing renewable sources of energy in a multi-polar world that will use a basket of currencies for international trade. This is the new Great Game of the 21st century, and it has only just begun…

  20. I just discovered your channel and it's awesome. It just proves that FIFA would rather give Qatar a World Cup than England or (back then) the United States.

  21. I say let’s just not allow the World Cup in countries with poor human rights records. Is that so difficult? I guess that would be difficult considering FIFA gives no fucks about anything other than $$$$$

  22. Can I join your team as well. I could help you promote your channel and get you guys farther than right now cause alot of people need to see the research you guys have been conducting and show the dire difference between everyday local government propaganda and fake news. Props to you guys I'm overwhelmed

  23. How do I all of a sudden feel bad for Qatar? Middle East countries seem to play by their own rules, and I don’t even know which side of the issue to be more mad at now.

  24. Thought you were doing ok until 2 minutes in. As soon as you started talking religion. Nothing to do with it and it's purely about money and ego. Good effort though. Just got facts wrong.
    And to any other poster who wants to go on with themselves reference what you say, otherwise it's pretty much pointless argument that you come up with.

  25. so fucking biased, always attacking the UAE and Saudi Arabia without looking at things through their perspective always supporting qatar, enjoying their money i see you fucking hypocrite, with so much "human rights abuses" how did the UAE get to have the best passport in the world ? answer that you oblivious hypocritical fuck.

  26. Qatar’s regime UAE regime Saudi regime Bahrain regime are all terrible, neither is better than the other, they all support terrorism, slavery and arresting journalists and democratic activists

    Qatar is hypocritical by funding Al Jazeera and and NGO’s and UAE is hypocritical using funding NGO’s against Qatar. These gulf states need to stop meddling in the politics of other countries like Egypt, Syria and stop meddling in each other’s politics.

  27. So many interesting information in a visually and tonally engaging way. This channel not having multiple million subscribers is a disgrace. Seriously.

  28. HaHa Like 2 Party Politics Like a BiCameral BRAIN or Parliament or 2Parents We GET some BALANCE from the simple criticism of EITHER SIDE some Justice Exposure RELIEF BAN ISLAM

  29. "Respected media outlets, like the BBC" Sorry but that is far from true the BBC are a propaganda outfit. This is from over a year ago so hopefully, you have since opened your eyes to their lies and corruption.

  30. Just a bit of criticism. The Arab spring uprisings did not start in Tunisia they started in Yemen. However, Tunisia was the most influential and basically the catalyst for other nations.

  31. Finally someone in the West who understands the nuances of the geopolitics at play here. The Middle East is a very confusing and complicated region, and Western media have always tried and failed to simplify and generalise, splitting warring factions into good and evil, when it is nowhere near as clear cut as that.

  32. As an Egyptian, I'm really surprised by the accuracy and detail of this video, most western media, would showcase this very vaguely if at all, props to you guys, this should be more than a YouTube channel IMO.

  33. I still can't get over how accurate and well researched this video is. It's truly refreshing to see this level of integrity and hardwork in journalism these days, and I just had to say Bravo.

  34. Your content, the way you articulate, and of course your voice make this unbelievably fantastic video. I just love to hear your voice.

  35. Given its treatment of workers, no good human being could possibly advocate for Qatar to have anything at all. But its neighbours are no different, and would do the same thing if given a chance. Move the whole tournament to somewhere else, or shut it down. Some things are just more important than sports.

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