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Gulf feud plays out in shadows ahead of Qatar World Cup

The pitch landed in an electronic mail inbox at the offices of Qatar’s World Cup bid at a crucial time in the summer of 2010, handiest months sooner than Fifa would meet to pick out the host of its quadrennial football championship.The sender was once a little-known consultancy based totally in London, Cornerstone Global Associates, and in the electronic mail the company’s president laid out a plan to lend a hand Qatar — tiny, dusty, sizzling and, to many observers, ill-suited to host sports’ most-watched match — with its mounting public members of the family issues.

The Qataris declined the offer, certainly one of a number of that had arrived unsolicited that summer time, and Cornerstone’s president moved on as neatly. But the complaint of Qatar did not pass away: Year after 12 months, news studies assailed the emirate about its unsuitability to host the WC, about how it gained the vote and about its remedy of migrant employees. In October 2017, the tone of the protection became ominous when BBC led its web page and channel by warning darkly that there was once “an expanding political risk that Qatar won't host the World Cup in 2022”.

The article created a ripple of identical items in the British and international media, they all sourced back to the same file: “Qatar in Focus: Is the Fifa World Cup 2022 in Danger?” What was once most intriguing, although, was once no longer the file’s conclusions however its writer: Cornerstone Global Associates.

When a trove of emails of UAE’s ambassador to US was once stolen and released in 2017, it revealed a large influence marketing campaign financed by UAE that was hoping to make use of US journalists and thinktanks to reposition Qatar and its WC in a unfavourable mild. A 12 months later, an article in UK’s Sunday Times steered Qatar was once simply as adept at those kinds of shadow campaigns towards its opponents. NYT itself received paperwork from a supply describing itself as somebody with reference to Cornerstone last 12 months, which looked as if it would are compatible the trend of the Gulf ’s tit-fortat knowledge struggle.

A extra existential fight for the 2022 WC continues simply out of view: Fifa leader Gianni Infantino has voiced strengthen for a proposal to amplify the event to 48 teams from 32. The exchange is a key international policy aim of Saudi Arabia and UAE, however it could require a humbling give up by Qatar of its crown jewel, since a 48-team match can be a virtually insurmountable logistical challenge for the emirate unless it agreed to share the web hosting rights with its neighbours.

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