‘We will be ready, inshallah’: inside Qatar’s $200bn World CupCan the richest country in the world buy its way to footballing glory? We joined the Qatar 2022 hopefuls to find outWhile Qatar takes in refugees from American Islamophobia (which, as we all know, is the worst thing in the world, except perhaps for culturally inappropriate/appropriated Halloween costumes) like Clock Boy, the Persian Gulf state has been less enthusiastic about accepting refugees from the Middle East than Dr. Merkel * has. After all, it has $200 billion to spend to get ready to host the 2022 soccer World Cup, so the last thing it needs is excitable Syrians and Iraqis.One problem facing Qatar, however, is that as host it automatically qualifies a national team in the World Cup in 2022. But Qatari lads are few in number and tend to be lazy, unathletic, and more interested in going to the mall than practicing soccer. So the risk of, say, Neymar Jr. scoring 7 goals in a Brazil 11 – Qatar nil rout on global television looms.Thus Qatar’s government is paying to fly in Pele and Maradona to inspire Qatari youths to get off the couch and play soccer.
But look closer, and other parts of Qatar’s new football culture are a desert mirage. Sanchez’s team perform in front of almost empty stands; so few people want to watch club matches that low-paid migrant workers from Africa and Asia are bussed in, in their thousands, to fill empty seats. When I arrived at a match in the Qatar Stars League, the top-flight competition, the first thing I saw was a Kenyan pulling on a traditional white gown. He and his friends said they were among hundreds paid the equivalent of £5 to dress up as Qataris, fill a seat and have a stab at singing football songs in Arabic.I used to get free tickets to “paper the house” for touring Broadway shows at a theater in the Chicago suburbs from my father-in-law, the head of the musician’s union. But it would have been even more fun if, Qatar soccer crowd-style, we were issued with free tuxedos to class up the joint.—————* A headline from the WSJ: But probably not “shocked, shocked,” like Captain Renault in Casablanca , probably just genuinely surprised. Who could have seen this coming?And, more fundamentally, noticing patterns is wrong.[Comment at Unz.org.]