DOHA: Recent corruption allegations made by the British newspaper Sunday Times against Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup bid has prompted some citizens to launch a campaign on social media urging Qatar to stop investments in the UK.
The campaign in Arabic on Twitter titled “No to investment in Britain” has evoked a positive response from a number of citizens. Noted Qatari writers and columnists as well as popular Qatari social networking sites have also come out heavily against the ongoing campaign against Qatar led by a section of the British media.
A parallel campaign has also been launched on Twitter, apparently by Arabs opposing the Qatari stand, questioning the country’s right and capability to host the World Cup.
Despite the concerns triggered by the Sunday Times report and an ongoing investigation into the allegations, most citizens believe that Qatar will not lose the World Cup.
“I don’t find any sense in investing in this country (Britain). It is only a waste of money and support to the British economy,” wrote prominent Qatari columnist Faisal Al Marzouqi, reacting to the Twitter campaign.
He also pointed out that despite the huge Qatari investments in the UK- worth about $44bn- Qatar could not even get a visa waiver for Qataris entering the UK.
“We still do not get the same treatment that the British entering Qatar have been getting,” he wrote.
In his column in a local Arabic daily on Friday, Al Marzouqi said that the campaign against Qatar was pre-planned. It comes from the greed of some people to get a larger share in the billions of dollars worth projects in the country, he noted.
Another campaigner — Miqdam Qatar — said the British media is trying to strip Qatar of its right to host the World Cup despite the huge Qatari investments in the UK.
“It is a big mistake to invest in government projects in London,” he said, saying there is no harm in investing in private projects. Another respondent said the hostile campaign was meant “to pressure Qatar to follow their demands and get their agenda implemented”.
Since the Sunday Times report was published, the Qatari social networking sites have been abuzz with comments on the issue.
Many expressed surprise over FIFA’s decision to investigate the allegations, which they said were not with good intentions.
Some suggested that Qatar should give up the World Cup on its own as a sign of protest against the move. “None will doubt our capability to host the World Cup from what we have achieved so far,” read a comment.
Another said, if at all Qatar loses the World Cup, it is not going to have any negative impact on its people and its economy.
One commentator alleged that the British media have been paid by elements hostile to Qatar. “They are making a final attempt but the championship will be held in Qatar despite all that,” read the post.
Another felt that the campaigners are targeting some key officials in FIFA and want to get more projects for their associates.
“We want Qatar to take legal action against the media because they are defaming the country with no solid evidence. If this happens to a European country there would not be any investigation and none will be able to write about that,” read another comment.
There are also people who are not convinced about the benefits of hosting the World Cup. “I want to know if there is any religious, cultural, social or economic benefits from hosting this event,” wrote one, lamenting that real estate prices in Qatar are going sky high.
“The situation could go from bad to worse, if Qatar has to host two million more people,” said another. Others, however, felt that the World Cup is a prestige issue and despite some negative impacts, it could boost the country’s economy in all sectors.