Before a ball had even been kicked in the Qatar World Cup, it was mired in controversy. There has been constant attention on the treatment of migrant workers, the environmental cost of building new stadiums and local laws around LGBT+ and women’s rights. Even the former FIFA President Sepp Blatter, embroiled in allegations of corruption, called the decision to host the event in Qatar a ‘mistake’ – although interestingly he didn’t mention any of the above issues.
Throughout the tournament, there’s been significantly more focus on what is happening off the pitch than on it. Celebrities have been criticised for accepting multi-million pound sponsorship deals, teams have been celebrated for making a stand against FIFA’s ban of rainbow ‘OneLove’ armbands and fans have allegedly been paid to attend matches and not criticise Qatar. When we’re thinking about crisis comms, there’s a huge amount that can be learnt from this tournament.
Qatar was hoping to change international perceptions and boost tourism by hosting this World Cup, but does the controversy surrounding it mean that the Arab state has actually scored an own goal and damaged its reputation? Or will the World Cup mark a turning point for Qatar that will see it improve its human rights? In this session, we’ll explore who are the winners and losers from this tournament, as well as what the legacy of this World Cup could be for FIFA, Qatar and the way brands communicate.