An Israeli journalist has claimed that his fellow citizens are shocked by Qatar’s resilience during the FIFA World Cup. The ban on alcohol sales inside stadiums, for example, was a surprise to football fans from the West, said Jackie Khoji in the Hebrew-language newspaper Maariv.
“What were they thinking, these Bedouins?” he asked rhetorically before answering his own question. “They slapped FIFA and the West on their faces. The Budweiser Company, which paid $75 million for the franchise to sell beer in the stadiums, was devastated.” Above all, he added, this was Qatar reminding the “hedonistic” West that “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” and, in this case, Qatar is Rome. “It has nothing to do with religion. This is a political action, not using the West as a punch bag.”
Khoji said that Qatar wanted to show that it is not only succeeding in managing the huge sporting event, but is also shaping values within the Arab and Muslim world. “Qatar wanted to reassure its residents, and believers all over the world, many of whom were afraid about seeing forbidden practices during matches and see LGBT+ people in the country. By banning the consumption of alcohol [in the stadiums], Qatar told the general Muslim public that there is no reason to fear, and there are those who preserve the values entrusted to them by God and His Messenger.”
According to the Israeli journalist, in doing so, Qatar has positioned itself as a true guardian of the values of Islam. “If it had allowed the sale of alcohol, it would have been seen by Muslims as a westernised regime that sold its moral principles cheaply just to be accepted by the world powers. This position as a Muslim country with morals and a determined stance against the powerful and arrogant West, strengthens its theological position against the countries which have been the traditional guardians of Muslims and Islam such as Saudi Arabia, Turkiye and Iran.”
Khoji claimed that FIFA was caught out by Qatar. “What could FIFA do two days before the tournament kicked off? And who among the million fans would cancel their visit because of the ban? This is a captive audience.”