By Christian Appolos
As part of its global peace campaigns; especially against all forms of interference or hostility among countries in the
international community, Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) has called on the State of the United Arab Emirates to desist from what it considered as desperate and never-ending attempts to discredit and smear Qatar as the latter prepares to host
the FIFA 2022 World Cup.
Rising from its deliberations in Accra the capital of Ghana, FAJ on its resolution number 3 titled FIFA World Cup, raises alarm
over UAE’s deliberate efforts to manipulate journalists’ organisations in Africa to issue public statements or campaign
against the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The Federation also expressed serious concern prior to its findings about UAE’s efforts to use Africa and its institutions as
political footballs to settle scores in political disputes and drag African journalists into activities beyond their primary
interests, scope and mandate.
Consequently, FAJ rejects these despicable attempts to use and manipulate African journalists and their organisations as
tools to challenge the organisation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
It will be recalled that the State of Qatar has initiated positive and commendable human and labour rights reforms that are
leading to better spaces for the enjoyment of labour rights, especially by migrants and workers in Qatar. Notably, the State
of Qatar has successfully dismantled the Kafala system, which is now a model for countries in the Middle East to emulate.
Already, reports are indicating that Saudi Arabia has started to borrow the Qatar model to reforming the Kafala, though
partly because it is not reforming through a consultative and collaborative process as Qatar did. Unfortunately and
worryingly, the UAE is still involved in the utilisation of the Kafala slavery-like labour recruitment system and practice that are
used to exploit and abuse the rights of workers, especially migrants and foreign workers who dominate the UAE workforce.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have noted and
applauded the steady and genuine industrial relations reforms that the State of Qatar has made.
At a recent European Union Parliament Public Hearing on the rights of migrant workers in the Middle East, the ITUC and the
ILO, whilst noting that there are still work to be done, the two organisations singled out the State of Qatar for commendation
for making remarkable progress in reforming her industrial relations climate.
Aligning with these positive, unparalleled and laudable reforms Qatar has initiated, FAJ reiterated the position taken by the
International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC) about the labour rights situation in Qatar.
To guide against these incessant and irritating penchants to recruit Africans and African institutions into proxy geopolitical
wars, FAJ called upon the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the qualifying National teams from Africa to be
vigilant about these manipulative attempts and ensure Africa’s dignified and prominent participation in the 2022 FIFA World
Believing that deterrence is key to preventing the furtherance of these dangerous and unacceptable shenanigans, FAJ urged
CAF and FIFA “to investigate and penalize the people and forces behind this unprecedented interference in global soccer
events which has the potential to compromise African journalists reporting on the world’s biggest football event”.
For observers, the statement from FAJ is a serious and troubling one though not surprising. It is troubling because these
sponsored attacks negatively being used to advance acrimony rather than build peace. Advocates of global sports as
veritable vehicles for building peace and tolerance have expressed excitements about the labelling of the FIFA 2022 Qatar
World Cup as the “Arab World Cup”.
The excitement is built on the fact that it is the first time that the World Cup is happening in the Arab region and the Muslim
world. This region has had its share of violent conflicts and political aggression.
It is, therefore, hoped that staging the World Cup in Qatar will help build better rapprochement and tolerance. Whilst this
optimism is still growing and valid, however, the efforts by supposed neighbours and brothers to sabotage the efforts of one
of its own is troubling.
The surprising point about the statement is that it is yet another evidence to point to the growing envy of the UAE to upstage
the State of Qatar as a preferred host nation for the FIFA 2022 World Cup. It is on record that the UAE has embarked on a PR
campaign to present itself as a global sports hosting destination. The campaign of calumny against the State of Qatar is
another step to discredit that country and for the UAE to present itself as a viable alternative to host an Arab and Muslim
Observers are, therefore, concerned about these brazen and underhand tactics of the United Arab Emirates to want to use
the backdoor to usurp the hosting rights accorded to the State of Qatar over 10 years ago. The world has been told that the
blockade against Qatar by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States that was supported by Egypt and Sudan is over. A
demonstration of this assertion will mean that the Arab world close ranks to support the State of Qatar to stage a successful
FIFA 2022 World Cup.