Chinese state media on Monday enthusiastically promoted the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, blithely ignoring human rights concerns swirling around the controversial event.
China’s state-run Global Times barely noticed any Qatar peeping out from beneath all the “Chinese elements” festooning the World Cup. In the minds of Beijing’s propagandists, China stole the show without sending any actual soccer players, although it did send a couple of pandas:
Although the Chinese men’s national team did not enter the World Cup in Qatar, the enthusiasm of Chinese fans for the sports gala has not been affected as some fans traveled to Qatar to participate in the top event despite the pandemic, while others are enjoying the atmosphere with Chinese elements shining at the festival.
Official FIFA ticketing statistics show that several thousand Chinese fans purchased tickets to watch the games live in Qatar. Fans traveling to Qatar from around the world to watch the games will also be able to see the adorable Chinese national treasures – two giant pandas, Jingjing and Sihai, who arrived in the country in October as part of a strategic partnership between China and Qatar.
“The arrival of the two pandas in Qatar just in time for the opening of the World Cup is not only the result of the ongoing efforts of both sides, but also a beautiful coincidence,” Chinese Ambassador to Qatar Zhou Jian said in a recent media interview.
Although the Chinese men’s national team did not enter the World Cup in Qatar, the enthusiasm of Chinese fans for the sports gala has not been affected. https://t.co/UpgY4sPcQk
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) November 20, 2022
The Global Times extolled the many special accommodations Chinese restaurants are making for the soccer fans who could not make it to Qatar, including beer served in bottles shaped like fire extinguishers so bar patrons can “take the heat off” when their team loses. China is evidently one of the few places on Earth where inebriation makes soccer fans less rambunctious.
Another interesting fad among Chinese soccer fans is watching the games at campgrounds because staying up to watch games that are played late at night due to the time difference would annoy their families. According to the Global Times, lingering apprehension about the Wuhan coronavirus is keeping the campground-spectator craze from really taking off.
Later in its gushing article, the Global Times revealed that China’s heavy emphasis on the Qatar World Cup was partly due to the outsized role Chinese state enterprises played in constructing the World Cup stadium.
“The image of the stadium has been printed on the recently issued 10 Qatari riyals banknote, which is the first time a landmark building constructed by a Chinese company has appeared on Qatari currency,” the Global Times noted.
“Chinese state-owned enterprises were the main force involved in the construction of the World Cup in Qatar, contributing Chinese wisdom and strength to the preparations, as well as creating a good image of Chinese construction and Chinese brands, and becoming a model of high-quality construction of the Belt and Road Initiative of China and Qatar,” declared Ambassador Zhou Jian.
The FIFA World Cup 2022 opened in Qatar on Sunday, with environmentally friendly Chinese-made products shining, ensuring a green global football extravaganza in the high-temperature desert area. Learn more:https://t.co/XM3MZgWPEX#CGTNAmerica
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) November 21, 2022
China’s state-run CGTN touted the engineering achievements of the Chinese companies that managed to build an enormous stadium in the construction-unfriendly Qatari environment:
To ensure water safety during the World Cup, Qatar has built 15 super-large water storage tanks in five locations across the country, with support from China.
Wang Shaohua, project manager of the Chinese side of the Qatar Super Large Reservoir, told CMG that “our construction technology has reached the level of international advanced enterprises. With technical breakthroughs, we handled concrete pouring in high-temperature desert areas.”
Khalisa Lingam, field director of the Qatar Strategic Reservoir Project, told CMG that “the Chinese role in the construction was fast-paced with good quality. So far, they successfully passed all engineering quality tests without any problems. So, in my opinion, the Chinese companies are the best.”
A Global Times video feature on Sunday touted the huge array of souvenirs and memorabilia made in China that are on sale in Qatar, and the heavy contributions made by Chinese interests to financing the most expensive World Cup in the history of the tournament.
On Monday, the Global Times ran an editorial that positioned the 2022 World Cup as an opportunity for Qatar to join China in rejecting Western notions of human rights, dismissing American and European concerns for foreign workers ruthlessly exploited in Qatar as mere grandstanding:
But regrettably, some people in the US and the West have turned a blind eye to Qatar’s efforts. Instead, they once again brought up the so-called human rights and other issues to criticize Qatar, and even tried to set off a wave of “diplomatic boycott.” Therefore, this year’s World Cup is considered the “most politicized” World Cup. Even French President Emmanuel Macron’s fair words that “Sports should not be politicized” have triggered criticism from some people in the West. Listen again to FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s tirade against this vulgar tactic: “What we Europeans have been doing for the last 3,000 years, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons.”
As the top global sports event, the World Cup will once again vividly show the fair competitions, respect for opponents on the field, and handshakes outside the field. It will tell the world that, even in the cruel “you lose, I win” competitions, there is still the possibility of respect, friendship and mutual progress. This is the fundamental reason why it is unpopular everywhere to politicize and instrumentalize sports events. The World Cup and the sportsmanship it embodies are an important part of the common values of all mankind, which should be vigorously promoted rather than tarnished. As expressed in the three theme songs of this year’s event, “Hayya Hayya,” “Arhbo” and “Light the Sky,” unity is always more affectionate than division and various faiths and cultures can mingle around the FIFA World Cup Trophy.
ABC News reported on the 2022 World Cup from a very different perspective on Friday, listing it as the latest in a series of global events hosted by human rights offenders, including Russia hosting the Winter Olympics after invading Crimea in 2014 and China itself hosting the Olympics despite worldwide anger over its oppression of the Uyghur Muslims and Tibetans.
“The term ‘sportswashing’ has repeatedly been used by analysts in connection with the upcoming World Cup. Some suggest the awards of these internationally celebrated tournaments have allowed the hosts to integrate themselves into the world’s conscience and become arbiters of sporting fair play despite accusations of human rights issues and abuses,” ABC wrote.