Has Anyone Started a ‘World Cup in Qatar Is Going Just Great’ Site Yet?

Tariq Panja and Rory Smith, in a crackling, deeply-sourced report for The New York Times on how soccer’s World Cup wound up being hosted in Qatar (spoiler: millions and million of dollars in bribes):

As the country fine-tuned its bid for the World Cup, its representatives spent hours in media training sessions with public-relations consultants drafted in from Europe, trying to craft responses to potentially awkward inquiries about the country’s treatment of migrant workers and its attitude toward gay rights.

It was uneasy ground for even the most senior officials, given that homosexuality was, and is, illegal in Qatar. In one media training session viewed by The New York Times, Sheikh Mohammed, the youngest son of the country’s ruler at the time, replied to a mock question on the subject by insisting that all visitors to the country would be welcomed.

When a media trainer responded by pointing out that a journalist might follow up by asking how that can be squared with laws that criminalize homosexuality, the prince responded, “It’s illegal in most countries.” Uncertain, his eyes darted from side to side. “Isn’t it?”

What could go wrong?

This sounds like a totally normal press conference with FIFA chief Gianni Infantino defending this whole shameful debacle:

He insisted fears over the treatment of LGBTQ+ people attending the World Cup were overstated, and repeatedly said they were welcome in Qatar even though homosexuality remains criminalized in the country. “Everyone’s security is guaranteed, from the highest level of government,” Infantino said. “This is the guarantee we’ve given, and we stick with it.”

He then sought to play down Friday’s abrupt U-turn on the availability of beer at stadiums, a last-minute change that shocked the longtime FIFA partner most affected by it, Budweiser. Far from souring that relationship, Infantino insisted, the sudden rupture had in fact strengthened the relationship with the brewer. [...]

“I feel 200 percent in control of this World Cup,” he said.

FIFA is 200 percent in control of the World Cup, Budweiser is 300 percent happy with beer being banned two days before the tournament started, and LGBT attendees are 400 percent welcome and safe in Qatar.

Saturday, 19 November 2022