Forget “sports washing”: Qatar 2022 is about military might and solid sporting power | World Cup 2022

WIts need a new word for this thing. Psychologists have sometimes used the phrase “semantic saturation” to describe the process in which saying the word “woodpecker” 20 times in a row, or sitting in a circle and reciting the phrase “easy-to-combined chinos” eventually strips those sounds of any meaning, as if the concept of a chino Easy to install all of a sudden no longer exists.

Something like the word “sportswashing” happened. This has always been a hopeful coin, adopted on hoofs to describe governments or other entities using elite sport as a propaganda tool. Years of extensive use, first by Azerbaijani human rights activists, then Amnesty International, and then by news and sports pages, has left it looking a little loose.

Currently, sportswashing has been embraced among apologists as a kind of internet, vaguely meaning that it belongs to the same company as “wokery,” has feelings or offends an emoji. They have come. Bloody hearts. The liberals. The deprived and the dead. How serious is something with “laundry” in its name really?

You have to hand it to Qatar 2022. The opening match is a little over a month away and every question, from the words to use, to Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s bewildering team at the start of the season as a central hub, still leads you back on the same basic ground. why him world Cup Happening in Qatar anyway?

We still don’t have a clear answer. The consequences and related causes have been examined in great detail, from FIFA’s corruption, to human rights abuses to the disturbing ambition of the wealthy. But there is still a void at the heart of this massive and arduous project. Absence of any real idea of ​​the cause.

Some numbers might help. The last 200 Royal Air Force personnel were deployed this week to Qatar’s Dukhan Air Base, as part of Project Thurayat, a joint security mission within the World Cup. Has anyone noticed in 2020 that the RAF has formed a combined Air Force squadron with it QatarThe only joint squadron with anyone since World War II? But Qatar also has 24 shiny new British Typhoon and Hawk Mk167 aircraft.

And this is not a private party. Welcome to Qatar 2022, where the world comes together, and does it in earnest. Amazing expectation. Expect to be part of a broad geopolitical security operation.

Qatar has 3,250 Turkish security officers. There are South Korean military specialists in Qatar who teach “close combat skills”. Qatar has a NATO that takes care of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. Qatari airspace is monitored by Kronos radar, Electronic Warfare Compact Airborne Threat Surveyor, SkyDome Transmission Data Link and the popular DroneHunter attack system.

Qatar has 36 F-15QA combat aircraft and 24 American Apache helicopters. Qatar has 28 NH90 helicopters from Italy, 36 Rafale helicopters and two A330 MRTT aerial refueling planes from France. Qatar has the eyes of the world. Qatar has a glastonberry spider. Qatar has David Beckham. And it is quite clear that the World Cup is also a weapon in this company. The Glastonbury spider is a weapon. David Beckham is a weapon. Perhaps you thought Beckham was just a tool or a machine. But it’s also a massive weapon and weapon, judging by its price.

David Beckham participates in a seminar at the Doha Forum in Qatar
David Beckham participates in a seminar at the Doha Forum in Qatar. Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

It sounds like stating the obvious, but sometimes the obvious has to be stated. What the World Cup is all about is security. Don’t try to be likeable, or to put a face to the liberals involved in the economically challenged corners of Western Europe.

Qatar doesn’t need to be likable, or diversified into packed golf vacations. Qatar has 200 years of natural gas. Qatar is absurdly rich and small, you want it to be visible on the map. This is not a sports wash. This is solid athletic power. And in the end, we are simply spectators, suppliers and accessories.

It helps to have a small perspective. Qatar declared its independence from Britain only in 1972. As a modern, self-governing country it is smaller than Gareth Southgate. The talk of coups and the Cold War in the Gulf for years has prevailed on both sides of the bid to host the World Cup, which is the real reason Qatar has such a large military presence.

The context here is a regional map that reads like the end of the world reinterpreted through Jane Austen’s bloodstained drama. Qatar and Iran are friends. Saudi Arabia hates Iran. The United Arab Emirates hates Iran. Qatar and Saudi Arabia pretend, for the time being, not to hate each other. Everyone hates Israel, except for the United States, which loves Israel while trying to maintain relations with everyone else who does not like it.

Saudi Arabia is on a break with the US, but it kind of likes Russia and China. China can love anyone who seems useful. Russia laughs hard at the idea of ​​admiring things, while looking for relationships with those who can serve its historical destiny to become the new Rome.

In the midst of it lies small, rich and vulnerable Qatar on the peninsula, organizing the greatest show in history and receiving daily calls from world leaders as the war in Europe created power and dangers around its vast gas wealth.

No wonder the World Cup atmosphere is a little strange, even the soft arm of this thing seemed oddly brutal, from buying Neymar for double the record fee, and blowing up the European transfer market to waving a flag in a moment of border tension; to me Create the current toxic greed About French football tycoon Kylian Mbappe, the golden spoiled child of gas deals, media takeovers and lunches at the Elysee Palace.

Football like this was used by Western colonial powers in the 19th century, as a lure, a tool, and a way to recruit locals. Perhaps, in an unlikely anachronism, there is an element of this process in reverse now. Either way, with the Qatar 2022 tournament looming, it seems abundantly clear that sportswear has come to an end. Counting drones, radar systems and aircraft. This is solid athletic power.

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