Despite the obvious US corporate nature of Time Magazine, there is a half decent article on Qatar's 2022 FIFA World Cup preparations. I say half decent, because it is the things that aren't discussed rather than the things that are, that is the real problem here. Wahl does a good enough job of outlining the three main issues associated with Qatar's controversial bid. Firstly there are the allegations of corruption and kickbacks connected with the original bid. Despite whatever the FIFA 'ethics committee' might come up with, there is almost certainly some meat to these claims. Secondly, Qatar is a damn hot country at the best of times and holding a football tournament in the middle of summer certainly cannot be considered suitable either for players or spectators. A move to the winter months may mitigate against this absurdity but it will be resisted by the powerful European leagues and their corporate sponsors. Thirdly, and most importantly, Wahl gives further oxygen to the damning claims of slave labour conditions under which the imported workers building the huge infrastructure projects are being forced to work under. Over 1000 workers have already died on the Qatar construction sites associated with the Qatar World Cup and that figure is certain to rise dramatically by the time the first kick is taken in 2022. Having fairly outlined these three issues, Wahl correctly reports on the Qatari response; that the criticisms are driven by European racism and anti-Islamic bias. But Wahl, not wanting to upset his US corporate employees, offers no real discussion around this Qatari response. He should because this is the really interesting bit.

 

Is it possible that seemingly opposing positions can both be correct? Wahl does not consider this possibility. There can be little doubt that the Qatari bid is flawed on all three fronts; corruption, heat and slave labour. But it is also patently obvious that criticisms, particularly those emanating from the UK media, are tainted by precisely those aspects highlighted by the Qataris. Britain and the US are both smarting from the fact that they both were defeated in the bidding process. But the sort of kickbacks and unwritten promises of lucrative trade deals are endemic to FIFA and Olympic bidding and are not particular to the Qataris. We can be certain that on the golf courses and private clubs UK and US businessmen and politicians are up to their necks in corporate bribes in an effort to secure major sporting events. That is the name of the game. The fact that the Qataris have more liquidity than their western counterparts these days must really stick in the throat of the western elites. Yes, crying foul against Qatari corruption is a distinct form of racism. Western corporations and governments have been practising corruption and kickbacks for five hundred years. They clearly don't like it when their former colonial subjects start playing the same game. It's the old European arrogant colonial mentality rearing its ugly head again.

On the question of slave labour conditions, both the Qataris and their western counterparts are guilty as hell. The labour conditions throughout the Arab Emirates and in Saudi Arabia itself are appalling. No escaping that fact. But this has never stopped the Western governments from cosying up to these oil rich fiefdoms. In fact, these largely artificial countries, creations of European and US imperialism, have no real indigenous labour force to speak of so they are forced to import labour from the Indian sub-continent. But who are the Europeans and North Americans to moralise on this front? The entirety of European wealth and power was built on slave labour over centuries. And even now European states are the financial beneficiaries of modern day slavery.

And what of the immorality of pretending to give humanitarian aid to Africa while all the time sucking out ten times that amount in debt repayments and cheap commodities. So the problem with western criticisms of Qatari labour practises is not that the criticisms are not valid but the sickening hypocrisy of those spear-heading the criticisms. Rupert Murdoch's Sunday Times is in the forefront of these corruption allegations, which happens to be a very useful ploy in diverting attention away from News International's own criminality. Needless to say, Wahl has nothing to say in this respect.

So where do we go from here? I for one am somewhat ambivalent when it comes to states like Qatar. On the one hand they are clearly led by a bunch of US sanctioned gangsters who have no concept of universal human rights when it comes to gender, sexual orientation or labour conditions. But on the other hand they do represent a modernising pole of development in a region still blighted by stultifying medieval traditions. Their expanding, well-funded universities, which I believe are finally open to female students, give cause for hope for a more rational and tolerant region. It is a case of capitalism, with all its glaring inequities, dragging humanity out of the Middle Ages and into something a little more humane.

One workable way forward is to relentlessly highlight the continuing Qatari labour abuses, their endemic homophobia and their misogynistic and intolerant Islamic culture, while exposing the hypocrisy of western governments for ignoring their own catalogue, both past and present, of human rights abuses throughout their colonial sphere of influence. Unqualified condemnation of Israel's neo-colonial expansionist project might also serve to give some credence and balance to western criticisms. That should give us plenty to get our teeth into between now and 2022.

End JPK copyright 1/8/14 

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 22 May 2018 17:50 )