Money Can’t Buy Everything for Qatar

If you have even a passing interest in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, please spare a thought for the Qatar national team. They lost their first match 0-2 to Ecuador, their second match 1-3 to Senegal, and their third 0-2 to the Netherlands. They were not just eliminated from the tournament, it was the worst performance ever by a host country. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the emir of Qatar, is now realizing what the rest of the world already knows: You can buy a lot of things with money, but it’s not easy to buy goals. 

FIFA, the governing body of football, is willing to sell a lot of things, but even FIFA has not figured out how to consistently sell goals. However, you can bet that a call was made from a Qatari official to a FIFA official regarding goals. 

Sheikh Fatar of Qatar: “Hello, my good friend. I heard you are driving a new Rolls Royce.” 

Al Wifa of FIFA: “It is a most beautiful car. A million thanks to whoever gave it to me.” 

Fatar: “It’s our little secret. We are very happy to be hosting a World Cup.” 

Wifa: “You earned it, my friend. The selection committee was very impressed with your presentation.” 

Fatar: “Yes, we presented them well.” 

Wifa: “You were very generous. But what can I do for you now?” 

Fatar: “Well, I have a small favor to ask. As you know, we have spent more than $200 billion on the World Cup. We have tried to achieve all our goals. We have not only built eight stadiums, we have paid thousands of fans to come to Qatar and help fill the stadiums. We have also hired fans from other countries to cheer for Qatar.” 

Wifa: “You could not find enough fans inside Qatar?” 

Fatar: “They were more expensive. We also wanted them to look football-crazy. Like the English fans who would trade their wives for a victory.” 

Wifa: “So what can I do for you? I am willing to come and cheer for Qatar.” 

Fatar: “No, we have enough supporters. But you can help us meet our final goal:  to score three goals.” 

Wifa: “Three goals?” 

Fatar: “Yes, one in every match. We don’t want to go scoreless in any match. That would not look good for us, as the host nation. We have paid our fans to cheer, but we need to give them something to cheer for.  I should also mention that the emir will be attending every Qatar match. The emir likes to see goals.” 

Wifa: “I’m sure the emir will see goals.” 

Fatar: “Not goals against Qatar! The emir has seen plenty of those. The emir wants to see goals for Qatar.” 

Wifa: “Don’t you have a few good players?” 

Fatar: “No, all we have are good prayers. People are praying day and night for goals. People are also praying that you will get me the bank account numbers of your referees. And you will tell them that Qatar likes penalties.” 

Wifa: “But penalties are awarded only in the penalty area. Do you think your players will be able to get the ball into the penalty area?” 

Fatar: “We are praying for that too.” 

Wifa: “Maybe the refs can help. They can accidentally kick the ball to the penalty area.” 

Fatar: “Brilliant! You are a great friend of Qatar. That’s why I have another favor to ask.” 

Wifa: “I am always at your service.” 

Fatar: “Can you arrange for some positive media coverage? There is too much talk about human rights abuses in Qatar. But what about all the humans who are not being abused? Why can’t the media search for them? Are there any journalists we can pay to come to Qatar and write positive stories?” 

Wifa: “Give me a day or two. Let me try to find a journalist who is not so big on ethics.” 

Fatar: “Ethics? What’s that?” 

Image courtesy of Photo by Heo Manjin, official photographer, Korea Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism 

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