World Cup 2022: The house always wins
The collective West is using the World Cup to emphasize its well-ingrained orientalist prejudice against Arabs, a xenophobic caricature very well dissected by Edward Said in his book Orientalism.
It has just started and there’s still plenty of time for the ball to roll, but the Football World Cup already has an absolute winner. That’s not any of the 32 national teams taking part in the competition. Neither the Arab world, nor the Arabs, as some cynically have pretended. Even less, of course, the one who is already a full loser, the host country Qatar.
When the minuscule Gulf state, which until recently was a former British colony, bade for organizing the tournament, its intentions were crystal clear. Awash in money from petrol and gas, the autocracy that rules there wanted to expand its soft power in order to advance its radical agenda through the region. One that pretended to substitute Pan-Arab nationalism of the Syrian Aflaq & Bitar style with a new Islamised Pan-Arabism promoted through the Arabic version of its long media arm, the Al-Jazeera TV satellite network, from which the late firebrand Yusuf Al Qaradawi advocated for the destabilization of Arab political systems in the wake of what was called the “Arab Spring”, which was really an attempt of the Muslim Brotherhood to control the region to expand its radical project in coordination with and approved by the collective West, always enthusiastic to divide and rule in order to continue exploiting the region and protecting its creation and regional representative, the Zionist entity of "Israel".
Lacking the demographic resources to achieve its ambitious geopolitical goals, not to mention the absence of serious cultural credentials of its own, Qatar depended exclusively on indirect and secondhand soft power, and that meant seducing the collective West and pleasing its demands and whims. Sports, which is understood as a lucrative business, is one of their favorites. Qatar has nothing to do with the former but a lot with the latter. That’s why its bid succeeded, regardless of the absence of any football tradition, the climate conditions, and other things that at that moment didn’t seem at all relevant for those greedy Westerners that rule FIFA, and many governments that are now turning against Qatar. Labor conditions and other poor Qatari human rights records were already well-known, for example, the second-class subject condition of Qatari women, which is aggravated when those women are immigrants.
Neither was its implication in the destabilization of Syria a secret, where thousands of people were killed in the name of a totalitarian project rubber-stamped and disguised by most of the West under the now ghoulish name of “Arab Spring”. But since nobody really objected to this collusion between the Qatari regime and the collective West, Doha rubbed its hands dreaming to become a respectable regional power, regardless of its lack of credentials in so many fields, from sports to human rights.
But as the tournament approached, Westerners became increasingly nosy and picky with their former untouchable ally. The long decade after Qatar acquired the privilege to organize the World Cup has transformed traditional Western hypocrisy into a commodity as profitable as the sport itself, if not more. A double-sided falsehood. The same people that were reluctant to speak out against Qatar are now openly condemning them.
When caught in this blatant contradiction, they don’t hesitate to play the remorse card, which is another commodity in the modern-day West. Being perfectly aware that no one will receive compensation for their past actions, some of these cynics solemnly assume the blame in the name of Europe, the West, white males, or any other suitable culprit. These disingenuous people shedding crocodile tears even pretend to be victims themselves. They do so by shamelessly saying that they are Arabs, Africans, migrants, exploited workers, or members of a sexual or ethnic minority. Both options, the one of the moral enforcer and the one of the pretended empathetic that shows solidarity pays off in the modern-day Western Vanity Fair.
Talking in the name of the victims or pretending that they feel like them guarantees big media attention, respectability, and many opportunities to monetize from. In doing so and in the best Western style, they don’t mind using generalizations and to put everyone under the same umbrella. That’s why these days we Arabs have had to read and listen about a pretend Arab World Cup disputed in an imaginary Arab environment, and according to the Arab way of life which barely reflects reality. All the while they automatically match Arab with Muslim and confuse the Qatari dress code with a pretended universal Arab one.
They also forget, because they simply ignore it, that the Qatari full ban on alcohol is completely unknown in sophisticated Arab-speaking multi-religious societies, especially those of Bilad al-Sham. Doha has more to do with those impersonal skyscrapers of New York’s Big Apple, La Defense in Paris, or the City of London than with Aleppo, Homs, Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo, Alexandria, Amman, Tripoli, Quds, Algiers or Tunisia, just to mention some cities where, among others, the Arab civilization can be tasted and experienced firsthand and not in a theme park of the Disney kind.
The collective West is using the World Cup to emphasize its well-ingrained orientalist prejudice against Arabs, a xenophobic caricature very well dissected by Edward Said in his book Orientalism. In the end, Qatar, which needed prestige and not money, is not getting it while the collective West is taking advantage of the naïve Qatari gamble to take the Emirate’s money and renew its long-standing Arab-phobia. In short: business as usual. The house always wins.