El Centrocampista

WORLD CUPS, BARCELONA AND OIL – Why the Qatar deal is all wrong

By Alex Bromley

When it was revealed who had been awarded the honour of hosting the 2018 and 2022 FIFA Word Cups earlier this year, I was rather outraged.

Russia was sort of to be expected, and though the backhand dealings may have something to say with it, it was coming. Many professionals and fans will remind FIFA that playing on plastic pitches isn’t exactly ideal, nor is the amount of travelling involved – one end of the country to the other is approximately half the circumference of the world.

However the more ‘annoying’ appointment would be Qatar. For a country with no footballing heritage, no beer allowed (though Budweiser will be sponsoring the tournament – more to follow) and where women have only just recently been allowed to attend sporting fixtures, Qatar did pretty well to get the World Cup given to them.

They must have had one heck of a proposal as they definitely did NOT hand over large sums of money to anyone in FIFA whatsoever.

So let’s bear this in mind; how does such a country get the greatest tournament on earth? Well unless you’ve been in a cave for the last decade, you’ll know that the Middle East has rather a lot of money.

Now I am not saying anything about the voting as it is simply not my place to say, however as the phrase goes, “money talks”.

Many will also know that the takeover business has also taken the European wind in its sails what with a number of teams all over the continent being bought out by Sheik this, Sheik rattle-and-roll, and anyone who owns an oil company.

The scientist in me is still flummoxed as to how in this super energy efficient world, with the greenhouse effect installed in everyone’s minds, it’s the Middle Eastern natural hydro-carbon salesmen who hold all the money.

So let’s continue a look at this money situation from a footballing point of view.

Barcelona, the best team in the world, signed a deal with the Qatar Foundation during the summer in a deal worth a reported €171 million. The deal is for five years and, unlike their previous shirt deal with Unicef, Barcelona aren’t paying their sponsors, but rather are getting paid by them; for the first time in their history.

The deal has not gone down well at all with the fans, who signed a petition to deny paying organisations to brandish and ‘tarnish’ the sacred blaugrana.

The dismay has not ended in the stands; the legends have voiced their opinions too. You may have heard of a man called Johan Cryuff, who himself deemed the sponsorship move as ‘vulgar’.

Strong words. However the club’s backroom staff had other intentions. The deal was reviewed a week ago, with 697 officials out of 809 voting to keep the deal.

But of course, the Qatari’s couldn’t care less. Petrol costs a lot of money now, and petrol needs oil –which the Qatari’s hold a bit of a monopoly on.

They will throw it at everything and everyone. Now one could claim that it’s the Foundation’s money, so they can do with it what they want, however when you look a bit deeper into the situation, you may raise an eyebrow or two at the somewhat ‘odd’ moral issues.

Qatar may have a lot of money, but let’s not kid ourselves – not everyone in the country is a multi billionaire and the divide between the richest and the poorest is absolutely massive. And here we have a non-profit organisation handing over the biggest sum of money in footballing history to a club that “don’t do sponsors”.

So where does a charity get €171 million from? Well the foundation is essentially the charitable face of the Qatari government, that’s how.

The government do give some money to education, hospitals etc, but usually they give the money to the Qatar Foundation and the charity decide who to give their money to. It’s not really a surprise that the foundation gets such large sums of cash; the foundation is headed by the wife of the ‘president’ of Qatar.

This time, they offloaded a whole load of their funds to one of the biggest clubs in the world. What sort of gesture is that to the nation? The government give money to what is essentially the Health and Education sector, only for them to give it away to a football club in a country half the world away.

It won’t stop there either – as much as many may want to claim wrongdoing by the government, it is now illegal to oppose the incumbent head of state. It’s now becoming a bit of a family affair too; the president’s son has been given right to the metaphorical throne. Family orientated dictatorship anyone?

I see this as absolutely despicable. I originally claimed shame on FC Barcelona for allowing themselves a charity to pay for a shirt deal, but having learnt the dodgy dealings from the Qatari side, although I should have seen it coming, I really cannot believe what’s happening.

Literally denying the country a better future just to try and get their oil covered fingers in footballing pies. Shame.


  1. Lee Roden

    4 October, 2011 at 19:43

    Joan Laporta says Rosell needs to be frank about his dealings with Qatar prior to becoming president, in full. I tend to agree.

  2. Heath Chesters

    5 October, 2011 at 22:12

    If they were REALLY charitable, they would have sponsored Granada, right? Haha!

  3. Varun

    7 October, 2011 at 01:43

    Qatar has lots of GAS not Oil. Big difference.

    It was spearheading the Arab League’s boycott and campaign against Libya and also Syria.

    Qatar is really tiny, its threatened on all sides by big Arab heavy-weights, its trying to establish itself on the International arena so that in the future its not overpowered in any way by these regional threats.
    2 years ago if someone would have invaded Qatar no-one would have cared, 20 years from now everyone would take notice.
    Also AlJazera is from Qatar and on a Arab scale its has huge Soft Power.

    You can’t blame Qatar for its strategy to legitimize their existence, Arab World is a dangerous place for minnows.

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