Qatar seeks to construct a real sports activities business built-in into the financial globalization of sport. To exist via sport. The 2022 World Cup marks a turning level in its sporting technique.
Jean-Baptiste Guégan is a member of the Sport Enterprise Observatory, advisor in Sport Geopolitics, trainer, creator and lecturer. Article written in collaboration with Mourad El Bouanani and Alexandre Buzenet
Whether or not in household or in geopolitics, if you find yourself the final born, you must redouble your ingenuity to “make room” for your self. Qatar due to this fact made the selection of sport, a sector which introduced a number of benefits: it was little invested by its regional neighbors and it is extremely media-friendly. Organizing worldwide sporting occasions was due to this fact the assure of present via sport, however the place successful shouldn’t be simple. The defeat of the “Maroons” in opposition to Ecuador was the proper illustration of this. To achieve totally imposing itself, Qatar has resorted to a very financially bold funding technique. Furthermore, a technique removed from being restricted to sport!
Qatar Funding Authority, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, mobilized quite a few subsidiaries that enabled it to weave a world spider’s net, each sectoral and geographical (Dumortier, 2012). For instance, in 2006, the Qatar Holding was created. It’s accountable for taking belongings in worldwide industrial teams similar to in Germany the place it turns into a significant shareholder of the Volkswagen group and of the German automotive business as a complete. The identical course of is repeated for the actual property sector, the place QIA delegates the administration of its investments to the Qatari Diar Actual Property Firm, which develops quite a few actual property initiatives everywhere in the world. We just lately noticed it in Malaysia, Turkey, Morocco and Egypt, via its subsidiary “Barwa”. If in fact the francophilia of the royal household doesn’t clarify the whole lot, France additionally seems to be a pretty territory with the acquisition of a number of stakes in our firms, whether or not Complete, Accor or Vinci.
This technique has thus enabled Qatar to take management of a number of sectors of exercise and to optimize its income. Not like Saudi Arabia, which “(…) favors bonds within the best-rated states all over the world and is keen on North American pension funds”, QIA brings collectively a number of excessive value-added sectors similar to aeronautics, automotive, know-how, power, water, media, finance, land, actual property and…sport.
Funding sport to weigh in: the payer is the choice maker
In sport, collaborating, organizing and successful usually are not sufficient. Worldwide sport must be funded to take full benefit of it. Because the payer is the decision-maker, the sports activities arm of QIA has been entrusted to Qatar Sport Funding (QSI), its specialised subsidiary headed by the Emir’s right-hand man, Nasser Al Khelaifi (NAK). In 2011, “Sport Illustrated” named him essentially the most influential persona within the sports activities business. The identical 12 months, he turned Chairman and CEO of PSG and Chairman of the Paris Handball membership, which affiliated with the PSG model to develop into PSG Handball. President of the ECA, the European membership foyer and member of the UEFA board of administrators, Nasser Al Khelaïfi is a person of networks. Important, he is without doubt one of the faces of Qatar overseas and of its institutional entryism.
By shopping for Paris Saint-Germain, QSI didn’t restrict itself to creating an asset. He aimed to make the French capital a sports activities and multi-sports beacon within the service of the emirate, its visibility and its diplomacy of affect. The creation of BeIn Sport, a sporting offshoot of Al Jazeera, can also be a part of this logic of financing world sport to raised penetrate it and promote Qatari pursuits. Since 2014, BeIN Media Group has continued to develop and weigh. Holder of the rights to greater than sixty sports activities competitions from the NBA to the Champions League, it’s current right this moment in 43 nations all over the world and has greater than 55 million subscribers worldwide in 2020.
However Qatar doesn’t cease there. It seeks to construct an actual sports activities business built-in into the financial globalization of sport, and that, it builds round excessive visibility belongings. A habits that appears “rational” as a result of it induces a logic of earnings diversification at completely different scales and integration into the leisure sport worth chains (social media, sponsorship contract, sports activities data, picture).
On this final level, QIA’s investments within the switch market bear witness to a brand new dedication to the financial and sporting progress of the worldwide franchise that’s PSG. The fee in 2017 of the clause of the Brazilian footballer Neymar (222 million euros) and the acquisition possibility of the French Kylian Mbappe (180 million), the renewal of their contracts or the signing of Lionel Messi show it. PSG has thus develop into the seventh membership on the earth for a valuation exceeding 3 billion euros (Forbes) in a decade. The second strongest development of a sports activities franchise on the earth behind the Golden State Warriors, the basketball group of San Francisco, NBA champion in title.
An efficient sports activities diplomacy however which isn’t with out limits
Qatari sports activities diplomacy is due to this fact on no account embryonic. Based on geographer Mehdi Lazar, it’s the geo-historical, geo-economic and geopolitical traits which have led Qatar to form such a singular diplomacy. As a result of Qatari sporting affirmation shouldn’t be restricted to the only need to organize for the post-oil period.
Its ambition is to make the emirate exist in collective representations and to form them for its profit. A instrument of differentiation throughout the Gulf States, Qatar’s sports activities activism can also be a component of nation constructing, nationwide unity and cohesion. It opens the way in which to a wider reconstruction of identification from which the reigning dynasty, the Al Thânî, clearly seeks to attract. A necessity for a younger state that has been unbiased since September 1971 and faces the historic threats of a posh regional area.
However whereas such a growth can definitely dazzle, many vulnerabilities and contradictions stay. Sport doesn’t make actuality disappear. The motion of NGOs similar to Amnesty Worldwide and the work of journalists Quentin Muller and Sébastien Castelier, The slaves of the oil manparticularly shed vital mild on the precariousness and residing circumstances of the hundreds of staff who’ve constructed Doha for a decade and made potential the 2022 World Cup.
Admittedly irresistible, the actual positive aspects of Qatari sports activities diplomacy can in a short time develop into unsure. The representations of Qatar discover themselves trapped in a disarticulated and conflicting strategy. The French instance is eloquent between requires boycotts, participation and repeated criticism. The enterprise of seduction doesn’t produce the anticipated impact. Removed from there. Removed from the anticipated narrative with the controversies round labor regulation and discrimination particularly, the storytelling at work on the event of the 2022 World Cup serves the pursuits of the State which it’s supposed to advertise.
One may marvel concerning the unsure way forward for geopolitical developments within the Gulf which might weigh on and destabilize the Qatari kingdom. Geographer Brigitte Dumortier explains how a local weather of regional pressure added to the strategic weaknesses of this micro-state might shatter Qatari ambitions. The blockade of 2017 and the specter of an overthrow of the ruling dynasty demonstrated this. The query of the diversification of the Qatari economic system and the sustainability of such a mannequin at a time of local weather change should even be raised.
The 2022 World Cup definitely marks a turning level in Qatari sports activities technique. Scrutinized by the entire world, Qatar performs so much with this occasion. The end result of a coverage that dates again greater than a decade, soccer’s largest choice competitors shouldn’t be with out its dangers. Publicity and the seek for visibility have a worth. That of confronting actuality. If sportingly, it appears tough to think about a Qatari success, on the diplomatic degree, this World Cup has already modified the character of the connection with its huge neighbor, Saudi Arabia. See you in December 2022 the day after the ultimate for a primary evaluation. It is a protected guess that there will probably be no scarcity of classes!