Thursday, February 22, 2024

Has Qatar Showcased Itself As A Place To Visit?

The sun has set on the 2022 World Cup and did so in dramatic fashion as Lionel Messi secured his legacy as one of the greatest of all time, lifting the trophy with Argentina after penalty shootout victory.

This edition of the tournament has provoked plenty of debate, with many labelling it sportwashing, pointing at workers rights, equality and so much more where Qatar is concerned.

And, of course, they have a point too. But has the World Cup made Qatar a place people would now like to visit, beyond the clear faults that lie in the country.

For those that don’t suffer from that, perhaps yes. By all accounts, the tournament was a huge success both on and off the field. People were largely welcomed and the amount of trouble, unlike many major tournaments, was minimal. In fact, many have called for all World Cup tournaments to be alcohol free as a result.

In England, for example, where there are millions of people who need help with alcohol addiction, with the national football team’s fans having a reputation for anti-social behaviour due to the substance, you’d expect plenty of arrests over the period of the tournament. However, in Qatar there were none.

From fans’ own experiences, they have much preferred the friendly nature of the atmosphere, and actually, the lack of alcohol as part of Qatar’s culture has aided with that.

The cleanliness, weather and amenities have also had a similar impact, with many heads no turning to consider it as a genuine destination to go on holiday.

Of course, the ugly face of Qatar has also shown its face too, particularly in the early stages of the tournament. The banning of the rainbow captain’s armband, and the confiscation of fans’ items daubed in the rainbow flag highlights the fact that the nation won’t welcome everyone with open arms.

And that shouldn’t be hidden because on the pitch the football was great, and the tournament largely ran smoothly.

Qatar said prior to the tournament that everyone is welcome, and a great diary from a gay football fan reporting for the BBC certainly showed that to be the case. However, they were also keen to point out that the experience they had was certainly compromised due to the fact they know what happens to the local LGBT population.

That still leaves a lot of unease, and essentially highlights the fact that yes, some people will be more inclined to go to Qatar and the country did showcase itself as a place to visit, but perhaps no more than people thought already, and there’s still a long way to go before everyone really is welcome, especially during periods where the country isn’t in the spotlight like it has been these last four weeks.