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Sports mega-events, soft power and soft disempowerment: international supporters’ perspectives on Qatar’s acquisition of the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals

Brannagan, PM and Rookwood, J (2016) Sports mega-events, soft power and soft disempowerment: international supporters’ perspectives on Qatar’s acquisition of the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 8 (2). pp. 173-188. ISSN 1940-6940

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Abstract

Through the use of document analysis, field work and semi-structured interviews at five major tournaments in Asia, North America, Europe and South America, the paper examines the perspectives of international football supporters on the Fédération Internationale de Football Association’s (FIFA) decision to award the 2022World Cup finals to the State of Qatar. The paper is separated into five sections. First we ground Qatar’s sporting strategy within the concept of ‘soft power’, as well as pinpoint the negative consequences that have manifest since the state’s acquisition of the 2022 finals. Second, we disclose and defend our chosen data collection strategy. Third, we uncover and discuss our results with reference to three key themes: the state’s suitability as a football destination; the dubious awarding of the 2022 World Cup; and, Qatar’s cultural backdrop and domestic policies. Fourth, we align our findings to Qatar’s foreign policy intentions and ‘soft disempowerment’ consequences, locating in the process the opportunities and challenges that accompany the state’s hosting of the 2022 finals. We conclude by reflecting upon the contribution we have made here, as well as acknowledging the importance of Qatar for current and future sports mega-event research.

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