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FIFA’S POLITICS, QATAR’S LOBBY AND AFRICA’S MENTALITY OF UNDERDOG

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The Federation International de Footbaill Association (FIFA) is the highest body that regulates the round leather ball game otherwise called football. Its oversees all levels of soccer and every continental regulatory body like CAF,CONCACAF, and UEFA. Its biggest premier-the World Cup with its dynamic, Political, moral, religious ,business and geopolitical dimensions-was successfully hosted by Qatar; A middle east,Gulf council state in between Europe and Asia continents, with over 2.7 million people

In Qatar, far beyond football are underlying personal motivations, viewpoints and agenda of different nations underscoring the truism that football is a global sport that reflects social, cultural trends and conflicts. Virtually all the actors have expected ends to achieve or Ideas to ventilate other than sport. The round leather sport is a great cover up for sleek international politics. For example, FIFA turned down Volodymyr  Zelensky’s request to appear at the Qatar 2022 World Cup final to share his message of peace because Ukraine is at War with Russia. Granting the request is allowing him the avenue to influence the war.  That kind of approach is too risky and open. However, far beyond that reason is the fact that FIFA cannot compromise its good relationship with Russia for Ukraine. The politics must be attractively smooth and shiny.

Qatar for instance is a small state whose cardinal objective for attempting to punch beyond her weight in international affairs – by bidding to host the world cup, beating the likes of Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States of America-is international visibility; to make a statement of arrival on global stage of socio-cultural significance and how best if not through the most popular sport on earth.  Qatar in my opinion did not just technically suspend her anti-homosexuality laws and anti-alcohol policy to achieve fame, but also tourism, entertainment and sport.

Saudi Arabia for example shocked the world by defeating Argentina the eventual winner in their first game. Arab Nations are moving with clear focus to create a sporting legacy that cannot only sustain their economies when their carbon energy is depleted but sending clear message to the world especially the West, that with little or no regard for the Western liberal values, their systems could profitably work, if not better. Qatar 2022, with over 200 billion dollars comfortably disbursed sets a new world order of sporting relevance. Furthermore, there is a business angle to Qatar 2022. Russia added around 14 billion dollars to her economy for hosting the world cup in 2018. Qatar is expected to make nothing less than 20 billion dollars. Qatar may also have found a way out of the severely damaging effects of the covid-19 pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war on her economy.  

FIFA, apart from being able to achieve its policy to bring the world cup to nations that haven’t hosted it before, also has a subtle monetization agenda that makes it develop penchant for wealthy nations which need not be well grounded in the politics of FIFA; just provide the money while FIFA runs the game. Interestingly, FIFA started courting Russia and Qatar; the highest and the third highest gas producing nations in the world. The rest is history. Today, FIFA set out to make over 6 billion dollars from Qatar World Cup 2022. I would not be surprised if Iran -the second largest producer of gas in the world- wins the bid to host the 2030 world cup, perhaps overriding stiff opposition from the United States of America. It would still be politics as usual. It would still be FIFA in action.  

Europe is perhaps the most difficult of all the actors that FIFA has to contend with when it comes to the World Cup, because, both FIFA and UEFA are in the same line of business, hence the reason why UEFA is strongly against the world cup biennial proposal by Saudi Arabia. It will kick UEFA out of business. Europe as a whole is still grappling with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine War. Russia supplies gas to the rest of Europe. Russia is technically dealing with the rest of Europe in her supply chain for not supporting her onslaught against Ukraine. The rest of Europe is feeling the heat badly and must be nice to Qatar who can be a viable alternative to Russia’s gas supply to Europe. In fact, European leaders recommended to its voting members to opt for Qatar, because of major economic interests in the country. Michel Platini, France’s voting representative was mandated by the former President of France Nicolas Zarkoszy to vote for Qatar having signed energy deals with Qatar in 2008. In addition, Qatar is the owner of Paris Saint Germain Football Club in France.

Nicolas Zarkoszy

  Also, in recent years, especially between 2010 when Qatar won the bid and 2022 the actual year of the tournament, Quora reports that Qatar has invested almost 40 billion pounds in Britain, buying 22% of Sainsbury’s and 20% of London Heathrow Airport . Qatar is the most significant shareholder in AIG, owner of British Airways, with a 20% interest. Qatar supplies nearly all the UK’s LNG via the South Hook Terminal at Milford Haven. She purchased the famous Harrods Store. She is one of London’s biggest Landlords. Europe as well as America ventilated liberal ideas of LGBTQ, women’s right and others.

Africa’s agenda at the world cup are always simple and moderate both on the pitch and off the pitch. That’s not to say Africa is not a party to the politics, conspiracies, lobbying and crimes FIFA has come to be identified with since Sepp Blatter’s. In fact, the former CAF President Isa Hayatou has once been held culpable and reprimanded for 100 thousand dollars infraction and he is one of the 24 member FIFA Executive Committee that elected Russia and Qatar as host nations of the 2018 and 2022 world cups respectively; a committee that 14 of its members have since been indicted, suspended, reprimanded, or banned. It therefore suffice to say that off the pitch on the International stage of football, Africa is a low profile actor that conducts its petty affairs within the insignificant ambiance  created for it by FIFA. On the pitch, African teams and players downplay their capacity to change unfavorable narratives and stand shoulder to shoulder with their international counterparts despite having achieved undeniable feats for their respective football clubs; hence, they celebrate any slightest victory- no matter how pyrrhic, unsustainable and unprogressive – over national teams like Brazil, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, France, even when such teams are in their weakest states or are building new teams with sophomores, or field their team Cs. Morocco  saw this genetic shortfall and decided to pitch her tent with the progressive Arab nations by openly declaring their victory over Portugal a victory for Arab nations until

Africa had to remind them they reside on their continent. Africa through CAF’s leadership would rather allegedly settle for a few thousand dollar bribes and promises to build Stadia across selected African nations by Qatar. The same Qatar that lobbied Europe with over 200 billion dollars in cash and projects, lobbied Africa with promises, sponsorship of CAF’s AGM in Libya, piggy-bank investments and envelopes.  Africa easily fits the role of the underdog.    

The world cup spoils 

FIFA expects cool, quiet and dignifying politics from nations but has itself become an agency of stigmatizing politics with bias and nepotism. Qatar owns PSG and its golden boy and FIFA’s golden boy shared the world cup spoils. It is unfortunate that FIFA is not neutral. That FIFA posted on the tournament’s official twitter account “that Messi’s victory has settled his so-called ‘GOAT’ debate with Ronaldo” underscores dirtiness despite deleting same.  Nevertheless, there is no denying the fact that FIFA gave the world a great show in Qatar; an interesting premeditated camouflage; a reward system of loyalty and bloc servicing in which the world was taken for a fool. It is sad.

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