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[singlepic id=89 w=320 h=240 float=left] Over the weekend, al-Jazeera was unable, as the most controversial TV channel, to air without technical glitches the World Cup matches. The Mexico/South Africa match was mostly disrupted with frozen images but the France-Uruguay survived almost intact.

I pity all those who banked on al-Jazeera to watch what apparently seems like an exclusive agreement w/FIFA to deliver the full package of matches to Arab viewers. Who would want to rely on a TV channel whose life span has been mired in one controversy after another? MBC or al-Arabiya, two Saudi competing channels with also a big footprint in the Middle East, should have pointed out this fact to FIFA.

The Qataris are up in arms over this global display of incompetency. They claim that the signals were  jammed by a third party. If this claim is true, it would be interesting to know who the culprit(s) is/are given that Qatar is competing with other countries for the World Cup in 2022.

According to a Libyan source I know, Libya jams the signals of the Hot Bird satellite networks of dissident TV’s airing into Syria and Iran. This is Qaddafi’s gift to the people who fight for freedom and human rights in the region. But, this is the first time I hear that Arabsat signals have been jammed for such a hugely popular event. So, I doubt Qatar’s claim and if my doubts are confirmed, it only shows that, once again, an incompetent Arab country blames others for its shortcomings.

However, given Qatari’s arrogance in an overkill attempt to showoff what money can buy for its bid in 2022, it has concocted a worldwide PR campaign to brag about its vision (Not Qatar’s really, but western architects, engineers, and visionaries well paid and laughing all the way to the bank) for the world to bow over: an air-conditioned, air-cooled open soccer stadium. What a nice way to poke some of the countries bidding like the US, Russia, Australia, and South Korea who are all competing for the same honor for 2022!!

No Middle East country has ever hosted the World Cup. For a good reason.

Besides the infrastructure issues required for such a gargantuan undertaking, if you watched the opening ceremony of South Africa, you would know that culture, leadership, and accomplishments are all part of the package a country put on display to honor the country’s history. In South Africa’s case, the music, the leadership, and the country’s history over the last 16 years, transitioning from an Apartheid system to a full and peaceful democracy, are major events the people of South Africa are proud of and celebrated them rightly during the opening ceremony.

In some countries in the Middle East, I can see the culture and history giving them the advantages to host, and I support it wholeheartedly (i.e. Egypt, Morocco, Israel)

But, if South Africa celebrated Mandella’s accomplishments during the World Cup, who do you think Qatar would honor should it earn the right to host the World cup? No doubt, the likes of Assad of Syria or Ahmadinejad of Iran. Maybe the Emir of Qatar himself, who chases perfumed stimulating objects like Israelis chase transformative books. There would be two flags flying over the stadium that day: FIFA and Hezbollah’s. Under those circumstances, I can imagine that jamming of the signals of al-Jazeera over the weekend did actually happen.

While extending one’s reach has been time-honored by humanity, in Qatar’s case, it is a pipe dream to think it can host the World Cup in 2022. As a member of the “Committee to Boycott Qatar for 2022”, I can already see Bashir of Sudan, who has an outstanding arrest warrant against him from the ICC for his Darfur Genocide, sipping tea with the Emir of Qatar and FIFA’s president while watching football. Qatar has already welcomed him with open arms and great honors in 2009.

I cannot imagine any better way for the Qatari dictatorship, known for its superficiality, to poke the western world in 2022. Can you?


  • Brad Brzezinski 14 years ago

    Sadly, my long term prognosis for South Africa is not good although I am impressed and encouraged by the show they’re putting on now.

    The government in power for 16 years with no credible opposition, seems destined to rule for a long time yet. Corruption seems to have started right at the beginning. Proper democracy requires change occasionally at least. Said government is actually a partnership between the communist party and the largest trade union.

    Under the guise of affirmative action, the rules are stacked against the most productive part of their society. There is talk of outright land seizure if current “redistribution” programmes fail to achieve the government’s goals. It is anybody’s guess whether they can maintain and improve overall productivity and stave off collapse.

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