French magazine: Qatar used sport to build soft power
French magazine: Qatar used sport to build soft power
Ben Ali’s feelings
The French magazine “Grand Continent” confirmed that Qatar has built a strategy for sports soft power linked to universal and human values, after Qatari diplomacy was previously limited to its soft power in large regional mediations, because in early 2010 it started to build a real soft power politics, which is diplomacy.sport by organizing a group of international sports events and investing in international sports clubs. The report found that Qatar managed to preserve its economy and mobilize the international community around its sporting political influence. Qatar has also managed to consolidate its position as an influential country in the Arab-Islamic world, in addition, Qatar has become a respected and influential player in international relations.
The report stated: On December 2, 2010 in Zurich, the right to host the 2022 World Cup was awarded to Qatar, following a vote by 22 members of the FIFA Executive Committee, who favored Qatar’s bid over the United States (14 votes to 8). At the time, FIFA president Sepp Blatter welcomed this decision: “The Arab world deserves the World Cup, they have 22 countries, and they didn’t have the chance to host the championship.”
Qatar has built a soft power sports strategy linked to universal and human values as an excellent lever for a country that wants to define itself. Therefore, Qatar invests heavily in sports. The first stone in this “sports castle” is the championship in Doha for professional tennis players, which was founded in 1993. Other initiatives followed. Motorsports (Qatar Motorcycle Grand Prix 2004) through horse racing or sailing. These are all events that enable the State of Qatar to gain visibility, experience and reputation by organizing international sports competitions. The first major result of this strategy was the hosting of the 2006 Asian Games on its soil. And in 2008, Qatar went even further when it unveiled Qatar Vision 2030 and its plan to modernize infrastructure, especially developing sports infrastructure to make the country shine.
The report adds: Qatar is striving for sports expansion in other directions besides the World Cup. Doha managed to become a sponsor of one of the most famous clubs in the world, the Barcelona football club, and thus display the Qatar Foundation logo on its jersey. On May 31, 2011, Qatari sports investment took on a new dimension when the Qatar State Sports Investment Fund bought Paris Saint-Germain for €70 million. It is a strategic choice that restores the image of the historic club, and connects the image of Qatar with the most visited city in the world, Paris. To improve this image, the club added expensive sports investments, and this strategy culminated in 2017 with the signing of the players Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, for a total price of 422 million euros, who became true ambassadors of the Qatari brand. And in 2021, the club achieved a new change in the summer of 2021 when superstar Leo Messi joined the main club.
The report indicates that Qatar is known today as an important player in global sports, and its influence is enhanced by the large media coverage of BN Sport Group, which was founded in 2011 and is present in more than forty countries in five countries. continents. The group is the largest buyer of sports rights in the world. With all these investments, Qatar aims to create an investment ecosystem around the sports economy in order to diversify its economy, becoming a world leader in sports excellence.
For this reason, Qatar is also trying to establish itself as a host country capable of hosting many major international sporting events: the World Handball Championship in 2015, cycling in 2016 and athletics in 2019. The Qatar Olympic Committee has set itself the ambitious goal of organizing 50 international tournaments by 2030.
This strategy is accompanied by investments in its territory to support the performance of athletes around the world and train the Qatari champions of tomorrow. This materialized with the establishment of the Aspire Academy in 2004. This strategy seemed absolutely necessary because since winning a medal in 1992, Qatar managed to win six more medals. Although its national team never managed to qualify for the World Cup before 2022, there is significant progress as Qatar has achieved great success thanks to the talents of the Aspire Academy, including the 2019 AFC Asian Cup of Nations title and a gold medal in the high jump during the Tokyo Olympics 2021 thanks to Mutaz Essa Barshim. .
The report pointed out that while Qatar’s diplomacy was previously limited to its soft power, in key regional mediations and on Al Jazeera television, in the early 2010s it embarked on real power politics, namely sports. Qatar has managed to keep its economy afloat and gather the international community around it, so its sporting political influence is not surprising. Qatar is consolidating its position as an influential country in the Arab-Muslim world, and has also become a respected and influential actor in international relations, as evidenced by Doha’s central role in the negotiations between the United States and the Taliban. , in the summer of 2021. The war in Ukraine and the consequences of the energy crisis in Europe, especially in gas transport, made it possible to strengthen the role of Qatar on the world stage. The World Cup in Qatar symbolizes the limitations that sporting soft power can face, as the host country, Qatar, will be in the spotlight.