The Qatar 'Dream Football League' may be a hoax, but never discount any plans from the Middle East
Report in The Times claims Premier League sides will be offered £175m to compete in tournament
Sport is the PR power tool deployed by monied regimes in the Middle East to change perceptions of the Gulf region. Qatar’s reported billion-dollar biennial football extravaganza might be an elaborate hoax. On the other hand it would not be out of keeping with a policy already paying out.
The promise of a £175million windfall for Europe’s elite football teams is well pitched since it tops the already massive annual income from global TV rights banked by Barcelona and Real Madrid, approximately £160m. In the case of Manchester United, the world’s third richest club, it amounts to half the total revenues. In other words this is the kind of money that no club could afford to turn down. Europe’s top clubs spend a chunk of the summer on the global road somewhere chasing coin, why not Qatar in what would be the ultimate pre-season tournament?
The idea that Qatar might fund such a project is not overly fanciful. The Gulf States are littered with sporting projects that serve no indigenous cultural role. A Grand Prix circuit the like of which the world had never seen was built on coastal scrubland bordering the Persian Gulf in Abu Dhabi. The Yas Marina complex cost £800m and for most of the year stands idle. But for one week in November the eyes of the world come to rest on this glittering glass edifice.
The Sakhir Circuit in Bahrain does not have the same towering architectural ambition but at £125m to build in a desert landscape formerly used for breeding camels, it represents some investment for a nomadic people with no interest in the performance of the internal combustion engine.
Up the coast from Abu Dhabi in Dubai stands the biggest grandstand of any horse racing complex in the world. They Meydan palazzo cost £800m to build and extends one kilometre in length. It hosts the Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse racing meeting later this month. Thereafter its opens its doors for domestic meetings before empty crowds, a testament to the will of a ruling class with money to burn on vanity projects aimed a conveying a sense of wonder to the watching world.
It does not matter that these grand venues like Meydan and the prisitine F1 facilities have no intrinsic domestic purpose. They are venues built to host TV events. When the cameras roll for one week of the year they broadcast the kind of positive imagery and commentary beyond the reach of even the most ambitious global advertising campaigns. The region is paying for authenticity it cannot generate in any other way. If you build it they will come, not local punters but global eyes.
Latest in Sport
The muddy truth of the Christmas Truce game
Alexis Sanchez video: Turns out the Arsenal forward is brilliant at playing the piano too
Burnley forward George Boyd has sympathy for Brendan Rodgers - because he struggled with Liverpool on Football Manager
James Milner lives up to 'boring' tag in brilliant Manchester City Christmas video
Sir Alex Ferguson on Jose Mourinho: 'He's good looking, speaks five languages, wins everything - it's unfair'
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Mayor says there should be 'no comparison' to Ferguson
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever