Postcard from Qatar: How the West misunderstood the World Cup

It was meant to prompt a reconsideration of LGBTQ Qataris. Instead, international coverage of the tournament entrenched local distrust, writes Christina Paschyn.

The World Today Updated 1 June 2023 Published 2 June 2023 3 minute READ

Christina Paschyn

Assistant Professor of Journalism, Northwestern University, Qatar

‘I really want to give you the benefit of the doubt,’ Jassim wrote in a message to a British sports journalist covering the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar. ‘But then I go through your Twitter account, which reads like a deluge of everything possibly wrong with this World Cup, and I come across these tweets that made my heart sink.’

The tweets Jassim is criticizing include images of Qatari and Arab spectators mocking Germany’s elimination from the tournament. They posed with their hands over their mouths, mimicking what the German national team did before its opening game in protest at Fifa’s ban on players wearing the pro-LGBTQ OneLove armbands in Qatar, a country that criminalizes same-sex relationships.

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