QATAR: Keeping FIFA Happy

ALEXIS CRUZ WRITES – FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), the governing body for international soccer, continues to face hard times; Qatar is still dealing with controversy over the World Cup, and it continues to do what it can to defend its bid. The problem is that Qatar cannot control the media everywhere in the world.

The news surrounding the association this time concerns FIFA President Sepp Blatter.  Long believed to be clean of corruption, Blatter is now under investigation by Switzerland.  In addition to this, The Financial Times has reported that companies like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, as well as some of FIFA’s other biggest sponsors, have called for him to step down.

The Peninsula, one of Qatar’s major English newspapers, recently reported that, “In a statement issued by his US lawyer in reaction to the sponsor demands, Blatter defiantly vowed to remain in office.” Whereas the Financial Times emphasized the growing number of sponsors speaking out against FIFA, The Peninsula provided more content on Blatter trying to declare himself clean.

World Cup news reveals a large contrast between reporting in Qatar and the rest of the world. Clearly, both sides have some biases. Much of the Western World, like Europe, remains frustrated over the small Middle Eastern country gaining the World Cup. Qatar obviously wants to defend one of its proudest moments, but that is difficult with accusations of bribery and mass migrant worker deaths floating around.

The Peninsula, like other Qatari English-language newspapers, is a sister paper to Qatar’s major Arabic publications. These papers have a pro-government stance, and the English publications follow suit. The civil rights watchdog organization Freedom House defines the Qatari Press as not free because even though Qatar allows several media freedoms, self-censorship is regularly practiced and it is rare for its media to be critical of the government.

Blatter has met Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and spoken positively of him; however, they allegedly do not have a close relationship.  Staying in the FIFA president’s good graces could only raise their chances of keeping the tournament within their borders.   

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