Hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is a joyless marketing operation aimed at catching the eye of corporate investors

Hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is a joyless marketing operation aimed at catching the eye of corporate investors

Updated: 12 days, 7 hours, 30 minutes, 29 seconds ago

DAY THREE in the Big Brother house and the inmates are already threatening to go full Lord of the Flies.

And, yes, we’ve already identified Piggy.


Lusail Stadium in Doha will host the World Cup final but so far the build-up hasn't lit up the imagination for those already in Qatar

Credit: Getty


England and Wales flags are suspended over Lusali Boulevard

Credit: Getty

So it’s probably a good job that we’re holed up in a country where alcohol is forbidden — unless you count the fan zone’s £12-a-pint Budweiser, which barely counts as booze.

Welcome to Qatar, the beautiful desert land of sun, sand and concrete.

With all the matches being staged within spitting distance of each other, for the first ever World Cup, all of Fleet Street’s finest sportswriters (plus a few of us pretenders) appear to be staying in the same apartment block in the appropriately named Al Sadd district of Doha.

It’s a weird social experiment to discover how many planet-sized egos can be crammed into the most soulless space imaginable before it all kicks off.

And the way things are going I wouldn’t bet on everyone making  it safely home at the end of the  tournament.

We’ve already seen one Danish TV crew being harassed and threatened by Qatari security for having the temerity to film a roundabout near a department store.

But there are so many rules and protocols to follow out here that you risk the wrath of the authorities every time you step onto the streets.

No booze, no vapes, no sausages, no porn, no painkillers, no gays, no swearing, no public displays of affection.


Even previous World Cup hosts Russia were easy going compared to this lot.

It’s not that the reception we have received has been hostile or unwelcoming.

Far from it in fact. But they are so used to following the strict letter of the law that they simply can’t countenance the idea of compromise.

Having said all that, I think I am still  waiting to meet my first Qatari national, because 90 per cent of the population are migrant workers and they are the ones doing all the heavy lifting.

Some of them live here permanently and others are just here to help with the smooth running of this tournament.

The first person I met on arrival at Doha International Airport was the world’s happiest taxi driver, a Kenyan called Joseph.

He couldn’t wait to tell us how he’d had ‘that Gareth Southgate’ in the back of his cab and that the England boss had arranged five World Cup tickets for him.

Even the steward at the accreditation centre who told me my press pass said ‘expired’ did  so with a polite smile without even mentioning the fact that I do in fact resemble the living dead.

But if you’re looking for an actual example of World Cup fever, then you are going to be sorely disappointed.

Maybe that will change when all the travelling supporters arrive in the next 48 hours.


England manager Gareth Southgate was at a welcome event with local volunteers at the Al Wakrah SC Stadium in Al Wakrah

Credit: Reuters

But it still won’t disguise the fact that the Qataris themselves are not that interested in football.

This is simply an opportunity for them to showcase their country’s wealth and their ability to build seven new  stadiums and an entire metro system.

It’s a joyless marketing operation aimed at catching the eye of corporate investors in the willy-waving battle with their rival Arabian states.

Which once again begs the question as to what exactly are we all doing here?

Because if you thought that it was a terrible idea when Fifa awarded the World Cup to Qatar in 2010, it is only when you actually get here that the true depth of the corruption behind that decision really hits home.


YOU didn’t need to be Nostradamus to see trouble coming when Manchester United pressed the panic button to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo last year.

The return of the biggest ego in football was always going to be an accident waiting to  happen — and it was only a matter of time before it all went pear-shaped.

So I can’t understand how anyone can be even mildly shocked by this week’s explosive fall-out.

My only surprise is that it has taken this long for Ronaldo to throw his toys out of the pram.

But now the Portuguese is burning more bridges than the retreating Russian army and surely no other club will be  stupid enough to take him on after this hissy fit.


MAX VERSTAPPEN really showed his true colours the other day when he defied team orders to allow Sergio Perez to overtake him on the final lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The flying Dutchman might be a brilliant  racing driver but as a person he is clearly a Grade One a***hole.

Even Red Bull boss Christian Horner was left embarrassed by Verstappen’s selfishness as he apologised to  Perez.

But they say that nice guys don’t finish first and Bad Max is living proof of that. Ronaldo on wheels, if you like.


GARETH BALE insists he has no plans to retire from international football after the World Cup despite managing just 28 minutes of MLS action in the last two months.

And why would he want to call it a day when he knows that he can just turn up whenever he likes and walk straight into Rob Page’s team?

Because if Bale can remain his country’s captain despite completing the full 90 minutes just once in the past year, what’s to stop him from becoming the oldest international player in history?

The way he’s going, he could still be leading Wales out at the 2062 World Cup in North Korea.


 FIFA    president Gianni Infantino has addressed world leaders at the G20 summit to call for a World Cup ceasefire between warring neighbours Russia and Ukraine.

That should do it, Gianni. The Nobel Peace Prize is in the bag.


THEY say there’s no  easy games in football.
But seeing that Iran have  just lost 2-0 at home to Tunisia,  England will deserve everything that gets thrown at them if they don’t stroll it in   Monday’s opening match.