What's the take away from the World Cup in Qatar?

The World Cup in Qatar ended on Sunday with a thrilling football match from which Argentina emerged as the winner. French President Emmanuel Macron was also at the stadium near Doha for the final, cheering on his country's team, which ended up in second place. Europe's press takes stock of a World Cup which many had said should be boycotted.

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Aargauer Zeitung (CH) /

Probably the most peaceful World Cup in history

The Aargauer Zeitung writes:

“Perhaps this World Cup really has helped to improve our understanding of the Arab world. In any case, visitors tell of the warm-hearted, helpful people they met. Of guest workers who are proud to be part of this event. And of course of how well organised the event was. ... Moreover, it was probably the most peaceful World Cup in history, which also had to do with the difficulty of obtaining alcoholic beverages. In any case, there were no fascists in the stadium like at the Euro 2021 in Budapest, no Russian hooligans like at the World Cup 2018 or dreadful riots like at the Euro 2016 in France, where 1,550 people were arrested.”

El País (ES) /

Bread and games

Writing in El País, legal scholar Joseph Weiler accuses all parties of hypocrisy:

“Fifa surpasses any Roman emperor when it comes to exploiting this modern version of panem et circum. And we can't resist the enchantment. ... The beautiful game hides its ugly masters. ... And now Infantino's apologies have been rivalled in their shamelessness by no less than a vice president of the European Parliament. It wasn't the EU institutions themselves that uncovered the scandal, but the Belgian police and intelligence services. The same goes for Fifa. ... It took the FBI to come along and topple the regime of [ex-Fifa president] Joseph Blatter. ... The power of bread and games.”

Le Soir (BE) /

Stay vigilant

The glamour of the games must not distract from the most important aspect, warns Le Soir:

“The ball starts rolling and we 'swallow' everything from Qatar - especially the money that flows into our economies along with its gas, money that bought a lot before and during this World Cup: museums, companies, football teams - including PSG, the symbolic Trojan horse of sport, Mbappé and Messi's club. ... But the real reminder to be vigilant came from Belgian State Security Service: while the football world watched the games as if hypnotised, investigators and a 'little judge' brought to light the behaviour of Europeans suspected of having sold their souls for a few Moroccan and Qatari dollars.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Be quick to prevent the next scandal this time

Saudi Arabia wants to host the 2030 World Cup together with Egypt and Greece. This must be prevented, demands De Volkskrant:

“Qatar feels that it has settled the score with Western moralism through this World Cup. This attitude could be symbolic of the new balance of power in the world. Western countries begging for gas from Qatar are not in a position to bring up the violations of human rights. ... Western football associations like the Dutch KNVB will have to fight hard to prevent the 2030 World Cup from being misused again to whitewash a criminal regime. Nevertheless, they must not underestimate their power. A World Cup is not much of a World Cup without the European teams.”

The Independent (GB) /

Participating raises awareness more than boycotting

An understanding of the problems needn't stop people from enjoying a sporting event, The Independent points out:

“As an exercise in global consciousness-raising, the World Cup going ahead achieved more than if one or two countries had stayed away. It is possible, after all, for people to enjoy a sporting competition while at the same time understanding some of its compromised morality. British football is already in thrall to the vast wealth of some of the global rich. The idea of playing football on sprinklered grass in air-cooled stadiums in the desert is a folly of environmental unsustainability, and yet the magic of what has unfolded on those pitches has uplifted and entertained as much as if the whole thing had been ethically spotless.”