Middle EastSports

Even Sports Don’t Survive the Capitalist Agenda: Qatar, Islam and World Cup Reflections

The Qatar World Cup 2022 gave greater visibility to Islam, and the Palestinian struggle and the host nation was commended for sticking by its values – but at what cost?

The Qatar World Cup 2022 gave greater visibility to Islam, and the Palestinian struggle and the host nation was commended for sticking by its values – but at what cost?

In light of the first Muslim-majority country having hosted the World Cup, various sentiments have been expressed in praise of Qatar’s Islamic propagation efforts on the one hand, and on the other, criticisms on the Islamic and political compromisations that were taken in staging the global event. Some regard the former ‘wins’ – from the opening ceremony’s Quranic verse recitation reaching millions globally to the Prophetic sayings via guest exhibitions centers, reversions to the religion, flying the Palestinian flag, prohibition of alcohol sales and availability of prayer areas in all eight stadiums – and therefore, encourage more Muslim majority countries to hold future World Cups. The latter, however, beg the question: at what cost – monetarily and principally – is this all taking place, and is this another instance used by the West to further channel their capitalist cultural hegemony?

The liberalist doctrine driven by the West seeks to tamper in various sectors, whether sports or uprisings, to further promote a Godless ideology stripped from the collective communal good, creating individuals subservient to their carnal desires. This is achieved through particular slogans that they sanctify needlessly, injecting and dictating on a global scale, upon nations and cultures that do not share nor subscribe to the worldview – one of many is the recent “One Love” campaign that infringed the values of the host country. These slogans are imposed and paraded as the most pressing issue of all issues – never mind addressing world hunger, poverty, unjustified wars, occupations, or the role of the military industrial complex on global warming. The intent is for the global mass populations to be devoid of any value system, so they are ready to be brainwashed and shaped in any trajectory that serves global Capitalism, without the realization that they are being conditioned to blindly follow an individualistic system devoid of any ultimate standard.

Even if it means to throw Western allies under the bus, the West will do so when it fulfills interests in furthering their agenda, as seen with the mainstream media attacking Qatar for its more conservative​ laws and practices, particularly during the opening of the World Cup. Not only does this expose the West’s hypocrisy for shaming the laws of a country they used in supporting the funding of terror groups annihilating Syrians, for which they remain silent on, but it also illustrates just how much control they exert upon countries they treat as puppets, and the extent of indifference and disrespect towards them.  The reality is that whilst Western countries claim to be bastions of ‘freedom’ and ‘tolerance’, this doesn’t come without the caveat of criterias and conditions set by them that host countries are expected to uphold in serving their capital agendas – and if not – commence the demonization.

Qatar, a country heavily reliant on and surviving off oil money, buys – rather than earns – its prestige, so long as they sit comfortably on their temporary gas reserves. The 2022 World Cup has been labeled as the most expensive in history – an unfathomable $220 billion splashed on infrastructure: roads, stadiums, luxury malls and hotels – more than 15 times Russia’s 2018 expenditure. Whilst the World Cup supposedly represents one of the biggest sporting events, the reality is that all of what surrounds it has stripped its sole purpose; it has become much less about the sport itself, but rather a capitalist money-making-political game, one that hundreds of millions globally cannot access because they cannot afford to pay for live transmission.

And so one asks: is it befitting for any Muslim majority country to hold an event of such unnecessary extravagance, under the pretext of spreading dawah to its visitors, when a sum so large – that could very well relieve world poverty – could have been spent alternatively, and much more effectively? If we’re really talking about religious propagation, God mentions in the Quran to “..Call to the path of your Lord with wisdom” – and wisdom, in this case, would be to not lose sight of the bigger picture and to not get lost in the overt ‘wins’. 

When we celebrate the good that comes, we must weigh it up against what has been compromised. No doubt, the global scale of support for Palestinians in their struggle for self-determination throughout the 2022 World Cup was the loudest in all of World Cup history – we applaud those who rejected interviews with journalists from the Wrong State (Israel) and who took the many opportunities to voice a ‘Free Palestine’ movement. However, does that now mean the World Cup should be held in Muslim-majority countries, because the Palestinian cause would be chanted therein? Have we turned a blind eye to the fact that Qatar, a country known to not give recognition to the Wrong State, allowed settler fans and media to fly in from Tel Aviv – for the first time – to watch and participate in broadcasting the global event? Is this not a form of normalization imposed by the West through selling and exploiting such events – defeating the entire purpose, whilst transgressing red lines? An act of good cannot be predicated on an act of transgression – just as it is inappropriate for a non-Palestinian to travel to Palestine through Israel (as this would be a form of recognition) – though it intends to serve the cause.

Other instances of Western influence included the wave of immodest dressing and alcohol sales – though sales were prohibited throughout the stadiums, exceptions were made outside of the stadiums – in the fanzones, which would not normally be the case anywhere in Qatar. When factoring all of these, it is clear as day that one cannot morally justify the approach of discussing Islam over a pint – the means do not justify the end, and should therefore not take place. 

One must recognize the eye of the enemy that does not sleep and the same hand that stirs the pot, such that events are weaponized for greater interests in spreading a specific agenda, all whilst the masses glorify what is shown on the surface. 

Islam does not subscribe to universal values, rather its method originates in God-given values, not centered around the individual’s whims – a version of ‘morality’ the West pushes wherever it goes.

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