New PR strategy switched on as Qatar co-opts critics

Last year, Channel 4 ran an expose of a football blog called The Pressing Game. The blog, supposedly a grass-roots affair, had the odd celebrity contributor and a wide-ranging subject matter. C4 had noticed, however, that a recurring theme was cricism of anyone – from the FA to Gary Linekar – who had criticised Qatar’s custody of the 2022 World Cup tournament.

What they found was that The Pressing Game had been created by a communications company that had been retained by the Qatar government. Although one celebrity contributor, Alistair Campbell, defended the blog and accused Channel 4 of pursuing an “uber non-story”, just a few months later seems to have vanished off the face of the internet, which – it could be argued – is a teensy bit suspicious.

Perhaps Qatar’s PR targets have shifted from attacking their critics to co-opting them. We’ve noticed a Twitter rebuttal from Amnesty International’s Gulf migrant researcher Mustafa Qadri, recently returned from a research mission, against a couple of Qatar news outlets.  Starting with the “somewhat selective quoting” by MEED (formerly Middle East Economic Digest), Mr Qadri refuted the claim that he had suggested that “criticism of the treatment of workers in Qatar is unfair” but merely that some criticism of Qatar is “simplistic, stereotyped and unfair”, which may well be true. What he certainly didn’t say was that all  or even much criticism is unfair, and illustrated his point by setting the record straight via Doha News and unleashing a series of tweets blasting Qatar’s inaction…

…which sound a little bit like criticism to us.

So Mustafa’s 15k Twitter followers at least know the real situation; that didn’t then stop the Qatar Tribune from giving the strategy a second airing, their optimistically titled story “Amnesty hails Ministry of Interior’s human rights record” prompting further outrage from Amnesty’s man in the field.

Now, we have no indication that either of these acts of gross misrepresentation were part of an official strategy and they could just be editorial incompetence on the part of the particular publications, but Qatar’s PR operations don’t seem to lack gall. Hopefully Mr Qadri’s forceful corrections will make those responsible think twice before they try it again.

Fifa’s real crime with Qatar 2022 is ignoring the workers’ plight

The Independent’s Chief Football Correspondent, Sam Wallace, keeps the focus on the most important of the 2022 World Cup’s issues.

The BBC Newsnight team investigating the 1.5 million migrants employed in Qatar on building World Cup 2022 infrastructure were hustled out of the squalid workers’ accommodation outside Doha by angry security men in the time-honoured fashion in December. But not before they had made some disturbing connections between the dreadful conditions workers had to live in and one big British construction company in particular… [READ MORE]

Qatar asks for patience – to perfect its PR strategy

Qatar seems to be confused about what message to put out to its critics, simultaneously accusing them of a conspiracy whilst also meekly asking for more time to put an end to the abuse of migrant construction workers  – currently preparing the country to host the 2022 World Cup. However, with Qatar’s poor track record on delivering reform, only implementing real change will make us critics go away. Read more

Death toll among Qatar’s 2022 World Cup workers revealed

From the Guardian

By Owen Gibson & Pete Pattisson

Despite Qatar’s promises to improve conditions, Nepalese migrants have died at a rate of one every two days in 2014

“If fatalities among all migrants were taken into account the toll would almost certainly be more than one a day”

Nepalese migrants building the infrastructure to host the 2022 World Cup have died at a rate of one every two days in 2014 – despite Qatar’s promises to improve their working conditions, the Guardian has learned.

The figure excludes deaths of Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi workers READ MORE


Qatar 2022: Construction firms accused amid building boom

BBC Newsnight carried a superb piece on conditions in Qatar and international complicity in them. The iPlayer piece is (currently) here  Below is an article with an embedded, shorter, video.

By Sue Lloyd-Roberts

The 2022 Qatar World Cup is all about money.

Claims that millions of dollars were paid in bribes to secure the world’s biggest football tournament for Qatar refuse to go away.

Qatar is spending more than £200bn ($312bn) on a building bonanza ahead of the tournament.

Everyone seems to be getting rich, except those at the bottom of the human supply chain, the migrant worker. READ MORE


Nepali man jailed after employer lets Qatar residency lapse

(above: David Cameron on a recent visit to Qatar University)

From Doha news

“In an incident that once again calls the enforcement of Qatar’s labor laws into question, a Nepali hospitality worker at a local university has been jailed by police after his employer failed to provide him with a valid ID card.

His identification had expired, and was in the possession of the man’s company…”


Striking workers in Qatar find labour laws finally working – against them

If you ever needed proof of Qatar’s one-sided refereeing, this is it

The reason “Play by the Rules” is one of our ‘Playfair Qatar’ campaign demands is that Qatar could make life better for its 1.5m migrant workers so easily: it could apply the laws designed to protect them as rigorously as it applies the laws designed to control them. As the Gulf state crushes striking workers standing up for their rights, it’s time they cracked down on the real problems. READ MORE

Football Supporters’ Federation joins campaign

Our friends at the FSF have now publicly joined the campaign, and hosted this blog on their site.

Qatar 2022 has sparked a building frenzy in the world’s richest country with an estimated 1,100 workers dying during construction. Stephen Russell from the TUC’s Playfair Qatar explains what fans can do to make their concerns known about that and the country’s “kafala” system… – READ MORE

FIFA’s magic wand tries to vanish the blood on Qatar’s hands

Qatar might be feeling pretty pleased with itself today. A FIFA investigation into possible corruption, conducted by the former New York district attorney Michael García has, after he spent 18-months scrutinising the behaviour of all the bidding nations, found only minor concerns that “were not serious enough to warrant re-opening the process”.

For those of us campaigning to hold Qatar to account for the deaths of hundreds of workers, this is like proclaiming the innocence of a speeding driver involved in a fatal smash up because it turns out he obtained his driving licence legally. READ MORE