Football and Soft Power: Qatar

This article is also available in: Italiano

A term that seems so far from the world of football, to which, however, it is increasingly linked. Today a first overview featuring one of the most representative countries of this combination: Qatar.

What is Soft Power?

“Soft Power” is a term coined by the American political scientist Joseph S. Nye, Jr. and can be translated as “sweet power”. It is used to describe the ability of a political power to persuade, convince, attract and co-opt, through intangible resources such as “culture, values and institutions of politics”. This contrasts with “hard power”, which binds its strategy above all to military power.

Nasser Al Khelaifi, the face of Qatar

The most striking example of all this, especially in football, is certainly Qatar. The Arab state has passed in a very short time from unknown to a real economic and media power, managing to impose even on neighbors with more history and funds. The founding of Al Jazeera certainly represented the first step in this climb, which however reached its peak thanks to Nasser Al Khelaifi.

Qatar Khelaifi
Nasser Al Khelaifi with Neymar

The man represents the real face of the Qatar Investment Authority and is the one who most wanted the PSG of the Arabs, and was then immediately elected president. It is to him that we owe the landing in Paris of champions like Ibrahimovic, Di Maria and Thiago Silva. If these purchases were also used to revive the image of the club in the world, the incredible ones of last year are due more to politics than anything else.

Football and politics

In 2017, PSG will buy both Neymar from Barcelona and Mbappé from Monaco, spending more than 350 million and setting the all-time record for a signing campaign. An incredible advertisement for the symbol of Qatar in Europe.

In fact, in that year one of the largest crises in the region occurred with Saudi Arabia and Qatar as protagonists. In fact, the former have always disliked the Qatari support for the Muslim Brotherhood, a social-religious association spread throughout the Middle East. Furthermore, the unclear position with Iran has always been seen by the Saudis as a kind of betrayal in comparison with other Arab countries.

Qatar Khelaifi
Al Sisi, King Faisal and Donald Trump at the Riyadh meeting

However, the situation worsened precisely in 2017 when President Trump announced his commitment in Riyadh against Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. After the President’s announcement, Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic ties with Qatar, calling on its allies to do the same. The choice to buy Neymar must also be read in light of the change of sponsor of the Catalans who in 2017 ended the partnership with Qatar Airways.

Qatar 2022

In Khelaifi’s view, the Brazilian also represents a further image opportunity. In fact, it is no coincidence that in the agreement signed with the Brazilian there is also that of acting as testimonial for the next world championships and other events in Qatar.

Qatar Khelaifi
Neymar ambassador of the Qatar National Bank

The competition can be considered a real test for the country and the Arab world in general. An occasion in which Qatar will do everything to show itself to the world as the absolute leader of the Middle East and football.

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