Posts Tagged ‘Football World Cup’

Geneva: the base from where Qatar pursued its World Cup bid

November 11, 2022

With the football World Cup starting soon, Swissinfo published a timely overview of Qatar’s sports washing efforts, led from its hub in Geneva,: Sportswashing the World Cup from Geneva, published on 10 November 2022

Qatar chose Geneva to launch a massive public relations campaign in a bid to secure the World Cup and impose its narrative on sports. From there, the emirate could access FIFA, United Nation institutions, heads of state and diplomats…Perched just a few hundred metres above Geneva’s exclusive Nautique sailing club in the posh Cologny neighbourhood, the sprawling residence of the Qatari ambassador to the United Nations maintains a near-level view across Lake Geneva of the UN’s European headquarters.

The acquisition of the 550-square-metre home set on over two hectares of land came a year before then-FIFA boss Sepp Blatter announced, to the surprise of many, that Qatar had won the bid for the 2022 football World Cup. Zurich-based.

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Advantages of autocracy: The United States and the United Kingdom, which had bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups together with Korea, Japan and Australia, had long been rumoured to be among the favourites. But intense lobbying by Qatar, FIFA’s arguable penchant for supporting authoritarian rule over democracy to get the job done, and hosting in a region where the sport could still grow, all ran in the emirate’s favour. Jérôme Valcke, FIFA’s former secretary-general, admitted in 2013 that “less democracy is sometimes better for organising a World Cup”. He has since been convicted in Switzerland for accepting bribes. Subsequently, investigations in the US and Switzerland culminated in 2015 with the revelation of a massive corruption scandal at FIFA, followed by arrests of high-ranking officials and an end to Blatter’s term.

Despite winning the bid, Qatar’s reputation as a credible and transparent sports host was severely damaged. Its reputation only worsened as the country eagerly embarked on a quest to make the World Cup bid a reality. Reports by human rights groups of abuses and deaths of migrant workers building the infrastructure for the World Cup became a growing liability to the upbeat narrative the country was eager to project. 

Even before the bid, Qatar, aware of its poor international image, looked to ramp up support among sport organisations, heads of state and diplomats. It chose Geneva as a location to lead a vast public relations campaign.

This three-part investigation shows the lengths to which the emirate went to whitewash its reputation, and the role Geneva played in this marketing stunt.:

More Qatar’s Swiss hub for foreign policy This content was published on Nov 10, 2022 In choosing Geneva as a hub to implement its foreign policy, Qatar gained access to NGOs, the UN and FIFA

More ICSS: Sports at the service of state security  This content was published on Nov 10, 2022 From the start, the agenda of the International Centre for Sports Security was tainted by a lack of transparency and links to Qatar.

More Promoting integrity without transparency This content was published on Nov 10, 2022 The Sports Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA) is another mitigated Qatari effort to boost its reputation.

See also earlier: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/12/if-qatar-has-to-share-world-cup-2022-fifas-ethical-standards-must-apply/

IF Qatar has to share World Cup 2022, FIFA’s ethical standards must apply

March 12, 2019

A coalition of human rights groups (such as Amnesty International, Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, International Trade Union Congress, Transparency International and the World Players Association) has sent an open letter to FIFA president Gianni Infantino to confirm that any country chosen to share World Cup 2022 games with Qatar will meet world football’s new ethical standards. The possible expansion of the next World Cup from 32 to 48 teams is top of the agenda at a meeting of the FIFA Council in Miami on Friday, with Infantino keen on an idea that would mean Qatar having to share the World Cup with other nations in the Middle East.

That idea would need Qatar’s approval, which is far from certain as it has been locked in a bitter diplomatic dispute with Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates since June 2017, but the more neutral Kuwait and Oman have been suggested as possible co-hosts.

Experts on workers’ rights in the region have been highly critical of the controversial decision to award the World Cup to Qatar in December 2010 and are now equally concerned about the prospect of one or more countries in the region having to build stadiums and upgrade infrastructure in a hurry. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/03/fifas-second-report-on-human-rights-misses-sustainable-approach/]

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/international/fifa-human-rights-qatar-world-cup-2022-gianni-infantino-kuwait-oman-bahrain-egypt-saudi-arabia-a8818816.html

FIFA expresses concern about Chechen human rights defender, but to whom?

May 24, 2018

In less than a month, millions of people will turn their eyes upon Russia as the 2018 Football World Cup kicks off. On 23 May 2018, the NGO Civil Rights Defenders published FIFA’s reply to an open letter it and and 13 other international and Russian human rights groups sent to FIFA, urging the association to start engaging with the Russian authorities on the human rights crisis in Chechnya, especially the case of Oyub Titiev [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/01/15/chechen-human-rights-defender-oyub-titiev-arrested-on-trumped-up-charges/].

 

Oyub Titiev in Memorial’s local office in Grozny, Chechnya. In the background a portrait of his murdered colleague, Natalia Estemirova.

[In January 2018, Chechen authorities started a campaign against the leading Russian human rights organisation Memorial, by jailing prominent human rights defender and head of Memorial’s local office, Oyub Titiev, on fabricated charges. In February, it was announced that the capital of Chechnya, Grozny, was confirmed by FIFA as the team base for Egypt.]

Such engagement is consistent with FIFA’s responsibility to respect human rights under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” the letter addressed to Mr. Infantino, President of FIFA, read. “It is also consistent with the commitment in article 3 of FIFA’s statutes to promote the protection of international human rights, and would demonstrate determination to implement its new Human Rights Policy”. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/02/fifa-governance-committee-starts-dealing-with-a-human-rights-policy/]

FIFA has now replied (follow link for full text) to the letter, thanking the rights groups for raising concern about the detention of Oyub Titiev: “… FIFA values the important work done by human rights defenders such as Mr. Titiev and yourselves and is, in accordance with paragraph 11 of its human rights policy, committed to respect and help protect the rights of everyone who is working to advance human rights in relation to FIFA’s activities.” 

This is quite a change from the traditional view that politics and sport have nothing to do with each other, but it does not say WHAT and with WHOM in Russia FIFA has taken up the case. That will probably remain confidential.