Bribes at the World Cup? Qatar’s captain almost burst out laughing.
An incredulous Hassan Al Haydos smiled broadly as the rumor hit him: Qatar will pay Ecuador to lose their Cup opener.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: The FIFA President slams Qatar’s critics with a bizarre speech.
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On Al Haydos’ right was his coach Felix Sanchez during the pre-match media conference at the Qatar National Convention Center in Doha.
He couldn’t see a funny side to the baseless rumor that was sweeping the internet.
“There’s a lot of disinformation out there,” Sanchez told reporters
“The internet is great. But it is also very dangerous… no one will be able to destabilize us with these criticisms and statements.”
The World Cup in Qatar begins on Sunday evening (Monday morning AEDT). And Powerbrokers hope that the kick-off is also the final whistle of the host, which is a political football.
“Once that ball rolls, people will focus on that,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who dramatically saved a ball, told reporters.
“Because that’s what people want.”
It’s certainly what Infantino wants. And Qatar coach Sanchez.
“The best thing that can happen to a team and a footballer is to stay calm and avoid any kind of rumors and noise around you,” Sanchez said.
“Obviously we don’t like it when people criticize our country, but… we’ve kept calm.”
Barcelona-born Sanchez, who has worked in Qatar for 16 years and has coached the country’s senior team since 2017, spoke about football.
But he could certainly have talked about his adopted country.
Keep calm and carry on despite what the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, described in a televised address on October 25 as “an unprecedented campaign that no host country has faced before”.
The hereditary Emir has absolute power over government decisions and follows an ultra-conservative form of Islam known as Wahhabism.
And as Qatar transitioned into modernity after a natural gas boom in the 1990s, there is a pent-up pressure from within to stay true to its Islamic heritage and Bedouin roots.
The Bedouins, nomadic tribes from the Arabian desert that stretches to Qatar, settled in Doha literally centuries ago.
Their favorite place was Souq Waqif, where they stood and sold goods – souq means to stand in Arabic, Waqif means marketplace.
The original souk was washed by the waters of the Persian Gulf. It is now bordered by the Corniche, a seven-kilometer concrete promenade along Doha Bay.
The new corniche and old souk draw an estimated 1.2 million visitors to Qatar for the World Cup, the first in the Middle East.
Infantino wants to focus on football.
But preparation for the Qatar Cup has been dominated by what he described as the hypocritical spotlight from the western world.
human rights violations; the illegality of same-sex relationships; Deaths of thousands of migrant workers building Cup infrastructure; restricted alcohol.
All have been under what Infantino said was a Western microscope with racist undertones since Qatar received hosting rights in 2010.
“Help, don’t share. Try to unite. The world is divided enough,” he said.
“We are organizing a World Cup, not a war.”
But propaganda abounds.
Qatar’s cup organizers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, have admitted paying about 400 people from all 32 competing nations to be social media influencers.
The committee paid for their travel and hotel expenses.
In return, attendees signed a code of conduct and agreed to promote the tournament with positive social media posts and share other enthusiastic comments online.
The committee also organized locals wearing competing nations’ jerseys to enthusiastically greet teams upon their arrival.
The move has been criticized for those involved being fake fans of nations like England.
“They went to see the teams and what happened when they did: ‘Well, they don’t look like Englishmen, they look like Indians,'” Infantino said.
“Can’t someone who looks Indian cheer for England? Or Spain? Or Germany?
“You know what that is, it’s racism. pure racism.
“Everyone in this world has the right to cheer for whoever they want.”
Infantino said westerners should respect Qatar. And if you’re worried, talk to the host country, not them.
“The only way to get results is through engagement, dialogue, not hammering, insulting,” he said.
“If your kid does something bad at school and you tell him, ‘You’re an idiot, you’re useless’ and you put him in his room, what do you think his reaction will be?
“If you get involved with him, he’ll realize that and he’ll feel better.
“I don’t want to teach you life lessons. But what is happening here is deeply unjust.
“If people think hammering and criticism will do something, it will do the opposite.”
Infantino said the World Cup in Qatar will be “the best ever”.
But his predecessor as FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, has called giving the trophy to Qatar a mistake.
In 2010, the 22 members of the FIFA Executive Committee cast their votes.
In the final deciding round, Qatar – a nation that had never competed in the cup – won by 14 votes ahead of eight USA.
Since then, exactly half of the 22 FIFA executives who voted have been prosecuted, banned for life, suspended or fined for corruption.
Bribes at the World Cup? Enough to make many laugh.
https://7news.com.au/sport/soccer/bribe-rumours-have-qatar-captain-almost-laughing-but-coach-fails-to-see-funny-side-internet-is-very-dangerous-c-8910143 Bribery rumors almost make Qatar captain laugh, but coach sees no funny side: Internet is ‘very dangerous’