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football and gas

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Without going unnoticed, the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar by the International Football Federation (Fifa) had hardly moved. It was 2010, awareness of the climate crisis was not nearly as shared as it is today, and the repeated human rights violations by this petrodollar-laden Gulf country were clearly not able to offset its ” soft power” growing. Twelve years later and while the kickoff of the World Cup will be whistled in Doha on November 20, the criticisms raining down on Qatar are measuring the time that has passed. Another era, other mores: this competition in the middle of the desert, in ultra-air-conditioned stadiums and at the cost of the lives of thousands of immigrant workers, rightly caused a scandal. And although calls for a boycott have mostly echoed in a vacuum, awareness of environmental damage and human rights abuses demonstrates that even the world of football, ruled by money king, can no longer exonerate himself from contemporary issues.

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar

Sadly, it’s to be expected that the reviews will fade as the competition comes to life. The Wahhabi monarchy, which devoted 200 billion dollars to the event, can then be proud of having succeeded in its communication operation. The first Arab-Muslim country to organize a World Cup, this showcase state, just in its fifties and almost unknown twenty years ago, has jostled for a place on the international chessboard thanks to its colossal oil and gas income. Not without tightrope walking, as shown by the great report that we carry on the front page of our newspaper: between rigor and openness, luxurious facades and modern slavery, Qatar is playing on a ridge line, as we have seen with the scandalous remarks of a Qatari diplomat a few days ago who called homosexuality a “mental damage”.

The sequel after the ad

In this operation of conquest of world notoriety, France was a real stepping stone for the emirate, welcoming its gasdollars with open arms. If relations have cooled since the accession of Emmanuel Macron to power, they have been almost incestuous at the time of Nicolas Sarkozy, who had made France a sort of rear base for the emirate. The PSG shirts flocked with the Qatar Airways brand are only the most visible face of an all-out investment policy in France: acquisitions of luxury brands, stakes in several French industries and above all purchases of whole sections of Parisian real estate, facilitated by an incredible tax advantage granted by Sarkozy. It was the time when Tout-Paris rushed to the evenings of the Qatari ambassador while the French president worked behind the scenes for the attribution of the World Cup to the emirate – justice is today investigating suspicions of corruption .

World Cup in Qatar: a journey behind the scenes

Today, Doha no longer needs Paris. If Qatar has been able to complain about French ingratitude since the Macron presidency, the small emirate is above all busy enjoying its new status as a pivotal country since the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. Qatar is the world’s fourth largest producer of gas and, above all, the first of liquefied natural gas, which is much easier to transport. What arouse all appetites and in particular that of Total, which signed, at the end of September, an investment of 1.5 billion dollars in a huge Qatari gas field.

For Europeans, who are looking for alternatives to Russian gas, this geopolitical equation could prove dangerous as it awakens the memory of the compromises of yesteryear, as was the case between Germany and Russia. Our growing dependence on global energy vaults should not blind us to the nature of the regimes of exporting countries. On the contrary, it must lead us to maintain the highest standards in international trade. As this World Cup of all excesses proves, it is no longer possible to separate energy and commercial issues from their ecological, social and therefore human impact.

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