Qatar’s World Cup: Looking For The Smoking Gun

Qatar’s handling of persistent suspicion that it illicitly employed its financial muscle to win the right to host the 2022 World Cup has earned it a conviction in the court of public opinion even if revelations of alleged bribery have yet to produce a smoking gun. Qatar’s refusal to provide transparency and accountability about its … Read more

What Does The Nations League Do For Developing National Teams?

The UEFA Nations League does seem from the outset to be a good idea, which are becoming few and far between when it comes to the European body recently. For supporters, it will provide them with considerably more chances to see their national team play a competitive match, rather than frequently unentertaining friendlies. For clubs, … Read more

Mounting Workers’ Deaths Increase Pressure On Qatar, FIFA And Asian Countries

A mounting number of reports of deaths of foreign workers in Qatar increases pressure on the Gulf state and world soccer body FIFA to urgently address their security and working conditions. While the reports leave questions unanswered they also point to lax efforts to ensure that workers are not exploited by corrupt middle men and … Read more

Qatar’s Sports-Focused Public Diplomacy Backfires

  A perceived lack of real progress in the improvement of conditions for foreign labour, aggravated by a Qatari reluctance to engage in public debate beyond platitudes, is undermining the soft power goals underlying the Gulf state’s sports strategy. The silver lining in the public relations beating Qatar is taking is that it forces international … Read more

Turkish Match Fixing: A Precursor To Corruption Scandal Rocking The Government

When Aziz Yildirim, the head of Turkey’s foremost soccer club, Fenerbahce SK, denounced this week an appeals court decision upholding his conviction in a massive match fixing scandal, he drew a parallel with a construction-related corruption scandal that is rocking the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and pitting the country’s foremost Islamist factions … Read more

Israeli pitches: A Tale Of Racism, Bigotry And Double Standards

If Israeli soccer pitches are any indication, Israeli attitudes towards Palestinians do not bode well for US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Middle East peace efforts. The story echoing from the pitches is one of racism, racial superiority, bigotry, double standards and little sincere effort to address a key issue that undermines Israel’ s projection … Read more

Football In North Korea – More Than A Public Image?

North Korea’s global isolation has been cemented over the past few years as political tensions with the US escalated, eventually involving a military standoff and strong rhetoric from the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un. The brutal regime in operation cannot feed the country’s population and is currently drip fed with UN humanitarian aid to keep millions … Read more

Investment In Soccer: A Double-Edged Sword For Gulf States

Saudi Arabia has become the latest Gulf country to discover that investment in European soccer to achieve national and corporate branding risks reputational damage when potentially discriminatory government and company policies are exposed. With Qatar taking a public relations beating for the working and living conditions of foreign labor involved in construction of infrastructure related … Read more

Oceania – Do They Deserve A World Cup chance?

Mexico’s 9-3 aggregate win over New Zealand in the World Cup play-offs will not have surprised many, and will have delighted even more that they “took out the rubbish” that Oceania was trying to send to the World Cup. Neutrals all over the world are content that Mexico will compete in their sixth straight finals … Read more