What is it about Qatar that the English can’t stand?

Published: Friday, 27 September 2019

Ok. So I owe Woodsy (so called on her Twitter handle) an apology. Listening to TalkSPORT - the worlds greatest sports radio station - on Friday morning I mis-took Laura for the actual host Natalie Sawyer.

I don’t know either girl - but I’m told Laura is studious and hard working. That she does her homework. Plainly that’s in stark contrast to Natalie - who was offering her mis-informed mis-guided opinions about Qatar quite openly and forcefully while sitting in for Jim White.

We’re all allowed an opinion of course - but in a position of influence we should all take time to be sure of our facts. Natalie didn’t. Nor has she in the past on this subject.

She was raging about everything she knew nothing about - including the idea of anchoring ships off-shore to accommodate fans. ‘So people can drink’ she declared.

Er - no. Absolute nonsense. If she’d read Matt Lawton’s piece in The Times that very morning she’d have known this.

Her other theory was that the stadiums should’ve been built off-shore in order to get round stringent alcohol laws on the mainland. Er - no. Utter garbage.

What is it with the English and Qatar 2022? As I told H&J, on the same radio station, six years ago - it is going to happen - nothing will stop it from happening - despite many attempts to do so. . And it’s going to be the best World Cup ever. If anyone has doubts and objections still - please - don’t come.

‘It’ll be too hot’ I still hear people screaming. Not in December it won’t - and if, for some unusual reason it is, the stadiums will be cooled to deal with it. Qatar planned for a summer WC when it won the bid. Fifa changed the dates.

What about LGBT rights? Homosexuality is banned in Qatar. Does anyone seriously think that LGBT matters are the exclusive preserve of the West? Come on. Grow up. I quote Nasser al-Khater from the Delivery and Legacy Committee - ‘I would like to assure any gender, orientation, religion or race that Qatar is one of the safest countries in the world and they will all be welcome here’. Yes, a public display of affection is frowned on. What’s wrong with that? Just respect the culture, that’s all Qatari’s ask.

Alcohol prices continue to fall. Ok right now they’re at levels that most find unacceptable. al-Khater again - ‘alcohol is not part of our culture. However, hospitality is’. Alcohol will be freely available in many more places than it currently is. And they are plenty already.

Ever since England lost 2018 there’s been deep resentment about 2022.

Let’s deal with a few facts. England’s bid for 2018 was never going to succeed. It was based on the arrogant assumption that football was ‘coming home’. Really? Do you know how much that kind of talk deeply annoys the rest of the world?

Every time that daft song is played it pisses people overseas off. That was never more evident than when it wound Croatia up at the last Euro’s. My advice to the FA would be ‘stop playing it’.

I know it’s based on irony - but outside England’s borders people don’t get that.

The FA’s Chief Exec, Martin ‘I’m not a football man’ Glenn, was right recently when he wanted to change the name of our FA to the ‘English FA’. It would’ve been a small change to the business cards - but made a massive difference to relations with other Associations and their delegates. It’s arrogance of the highest order - ‘hello, I’m from the FA’. ‘Are you? Which FA?’ It winds people up.

Our 2018 bidders paraded Mssrs Lineker Beckham Dein Cameron and Prince William. ‘Football is coming home’ was the theme. Is it? Sorry guys - football’s ‘home’ is now the rest of the world.

The competition is called the ‘World Cup’. It’s not the ‘England Cup’. Why shouldn’t the rest of the world have access to it? Why shouldn’t the Arab world host it? The hysteria and mis-information about Qatar’s WC has bordered on abuse and racism every since it was awarded. And still it goes on, with one publication or broadcaster simply repeating nonsense that they’ve read or heard elsewhere.

Let’s deal with workers’ rights while we at it. Qatar has never hidden from the fact that it had improvements to make in this area. It’s done it. It continues to do it. Does anyone think this would’ve happened without the spotlight being turned on Qatar following the award? I was in Mumbai recently - my goodness - I couldn’t believe some of the things I saw there. Could someone have a word with the Indian Govt about living conditions and workers rights please?

It’s worth pointing out that British and American companies have made multi millions from WC contracts in Qatar - and they were the biggest abusers of workers at one time.

You don’t hear from Andy or me on TalkSPORT these days because we distanced ourselves from the organisation when NewsCorp took it over. For many of the reasons Colin Murray stepped away - and more of our own - I simply can’t contribute to anything the Murdoch family have an interest in. The things we discovered when we put Hillsborough back on the front pages appalled me. If I had my time again many things in my life world be different - working for the Murdochs and their bully boys/girls would be one of them.

Doubtless my arch critic Marina Hyde will soon be calling me ‘Lord Haw Haw’ again. How childish is that? But carry on Marina. It’s an outdated and inaccurate insult.

Let me say this. I’m proud to call Qatar home. I’ve made some life long friends in the region. People judged me on facts - not the nonsense often repeated on the social media. Qatar is a lovely little country - it’s a gorgeous place to live. People are proud of their heritage and what they’ve achieved in the modern world. So they should be.

As Roy Hodgson once said when he was manager of England - ‘the question about Qatar shouldn’t be ‘why?’ - it should be ‘why not?’’

England lost 2018. Get over it. Its looking as though 2030 is going the wrong way too. Drop the arrogance guys - stop the mis-information. There’s a big world outside England. If I may get a tad political - it’s the same with Brexit - far better to be inside the tent pissing out, than outside trying to piss in. Join up.....football now belongs to the world.