Why Big Business Cant Get Enough of the World Cup, Scandal and All
The World Cup in Qatar, which started this week, has been plagued by controversy and yet companies and countries are tripping over themselves to be part of the show.
When the opening game of the World Cup kicked off in Qatar on Sunday, Mohamed Jaidah was in prime position. The Qatari executive sank into a couch in Al Bayt Stadiums V.I.P. hospitality suite, with its buffet and open bar (alcohol is included for the select audience despite being banned for most fans) and a dead-on view of the pitch, marveling at the fact that the tournament was happening at all.
Mr. Jaidah, the group executive director of Jaidah Group, a distribution partner in Qatar for Hyundai, a FIFA sponsor, still couldnt help bringing up an old wound. A lot of people here werent happy in 2010 about us winning the rights to host the World Cup, he said. But it made us even prouder to have gone through 12 years of media hell.
The hell has been well documented, by The Times and others. It includes accusations by human rights organizations that thousands of migrant workers died in the process of building seven World Cup stadiums and other projects in the blistering desert heat; the government has acknowledged three work-related deaths. And there are still questions over how FIFA, soccers powerful governing body, allowed one of the biggest sporting events on the planet to be hosted by a tiny country where homosexuality can land you in jail.
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