currentlynewspost: The Qatar World Cup Organizers have withdrawn money paid to fans attending the competitions, after public backlash from across the globe against the programme, SportBuzzer has reported.
According to SportBuzzer on Saturday November 19th, the committee had decided to do away with the programme, which saw each fan get up to $50 per day during their stay in Qatar, as part of an initiative to ensure they didn’t spend all their money on hotel bills and food instead of tickets and souvenirs.
Qatar World Cup Organizers Withdraw Money Paid to Fans
SportsBuzzer reported on Saturday, November 19th, that Qatar World Cup organisers will stop providing fans with free cash in response to international backlash.
The pocket money was given out in exchange for certain privileges, including access through FIFA accredited gates and being able to enter stadiums without having their bags checked.
The chairman of FIFA’s reform committee, Domenico Scala, has said he was not aware of these programmes and would not have approved them if he had known about them. This decision follows many scandals involving Qatar-based sponsors and Fifa officials during this year’s tournament in Russia.
Some commentators see it as yet another sign that Fifa is trying to distance itself from its regional partner.
Others however say that, despite what seems like a corrupt deal between the two organisations, Qatar will remain important for world football.
For example, unlike other countries such as Japan or South Korea who never made it past the first round of qualification, Qatar were awarded hosting rights to both the 2022 World Cup and the 2026 edition of the Confederations Cup.
These are hugely lucrative events, estimated to be worth billions of dollars over the course of three tournaments.
On top of this, Qatar’s economy benefits hugely from tourism during major sporting events: they may not be able to afford accommodation for all visitors but hotels across the Gulf have reported occupancy rates at over 100% due to all the extra flights into Doha.
It also provides jobs and boosts salaries at a time when unemployment levels are high in Middle Eastern countries.
In 2010 only 3% of Qataris held permanent employment – by 2018 almost 45% did – thanks largely to investment generated by the World Cup preparations.
Qatar World Cup Committee Decides to Do Away With Program
As per SportBuzzer on Saturday, November 19, the Qatar World Cup organisers decided to terminate the free currency programme to fans in attendance at the competition.
In contrast, this time the organization is not going to pay into fans’ pockets directly as it did during other events such as in South Africa and Brazil.
Instead, it is giving them tickets for free food and drinks at specific locations, or providing a voucher which can be exchanged for goods at specific shops.
The decision comes following a strong backlash from international football organisations over the idea of paying people to attend games.
The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) stated that this move would violate its regulations regarding the distribution of gifts or payments.
FIFA also urged Qatar to look for other ways of getting crowds excited about coming to games without offering financial incentives.
However, according to Sport Buzzer officials are still unsure what the final verdict on this matter will be. They said It’s still unclear whether Qatar has consulted their regional governing body about the issue.
There’s no evidence so far of them speaking to the Asian Football Confederation.
The AFC already issued a statement last year expressing opposition to the scheme, saying: The AFC reiterates its firm opposition to any initiatives… which involve individuals being given funds as an incentive to attend football matches.
Brought up by members of FIFA Executive Committee Members were concerned that paying fans was against regulations banning gift-giving
SportBuzzer: Qatar World Cup Pocket Money Withdrawn
The committee had apparently decided that this was a part of their campaign where they were thanking people who had come and supported them while they hosted the tournament.
The programme, which was launched in 2016, involved handing out QR 200 (£38) per month in addition to food vouchers and Qatar Airways tickets.
According to SportBuzzer on Saturday, November 19 the committee had decided to do away with the programme after being criticised for using public funds for private gain.
SportBuzzer reported that the decision came about following backlash from both foreign and local media.
According to Khaleej Times, some supporters of the Gulf state welcomed the decision as it will help to stem widespread abuse of the scheme by those outside Qatar and not genuinely interested in football.
Others said that it would lead to a rise in prostitution and crime as unemployed young men will turn to illegal means in order to make money.
The announcement has led many netizens across social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram calling for other parts of government spending within Qatar be halted due what they see as blatant misuse of resources whilst citizens are facing an economic crisis.
Online users voiced their opinions across platforms expressing solidarity for the decision to end the scheme: Great move, commented one user on Twitter.
This is finally how you can solve your economy problem. Other users also agreed: I agree 100%, another user posted.
However, there were others who disagreed with ending the programme and voiced concern over how it could affect employment opportunities in Qatar.
In response to the criticism levelled at the project, Hassan al-Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme National Committee for FIFA 2022 said: the idea behind our project has always been to engage with people around the world during these few weeks and months when we host the World Cup.
In announcing that funding for Pocket Money would stop he added: We want to thank all participants in our program who have taken part enthusiastically and generously.
Hassan al-Thawadi’s comment seems representative of many responses received on social media sites, but his assertion we want to thank all participants in our program seems inconsistent with feedback suggesting most recipients were never engaged or participating enthusiastically.
There are mixed opinions on whether the programme helped to get more Qataris into stadiums, however according to Amnesty International it allowed Qatari authorities to identify fans.
Critics say that use of such programmes helps authorities employ surveillance tactics and they question whether effective alternatives exist.
It’s unclear whether any alternative programmes will be created in light of this announcement, but it seems possible given the amount invested so far (estimated at £200 million).
A spokesperson from Amnesty International responded positively saying In terminating this latest initiative, Qatar appears to finally acknowledge that pocketing huge sums of cash does not constitute smart leadership.
They argued that cutting off funding for this programme will increase support for human rights reform and urged Qatar authorities to take immediate steps toward better labour standards, freedom of expression and association.