Qatar: Goals and Own Goals

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  • A sporting triumph, a culture war, and now an unfolding corruption row over alleged Qatari lobbying methods — the soccer World Cup delivered it all.
  • History will look back at Qatar 2022 as the zenith of petrostate soft power projection, but possibly also the ultimate model for sportswashing hubris.
  • There are potential energy implications for Gulf energy relations, the EU-Qatari gas relationship and even the energy wider transition.

The PR benefits of Qatar’s World Cup bid have looked dubious for years, with Doha having to handle first the fallout from the major scandal involving allegations of corruption to get the bid, then the outrage over the treatment of migrant workers, plus opposition to Qatar’s position on LGBTQ rights. It took too long to respond, but to its credit, Doha did make tangible improvements to labor laws in the run-up to the cup kickoff. Qatar could have been forgiven for believing that once the soccer began, criticism would evaporate, as it has historically tended to with other controversial sports events.

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