Qatar enlists its citizens for World Cup security


Lusail Stadium on the outskirts of Qatar's capital Doha ahead of the FIFA World Cup orientation event

Qatar enlisting citizens for World Cup security has disaster written all over it
Image: Getty Images

Here’s the thing about Qatar hosting the World Cup in about six weeks: even if you could ignore the disgusting and egregious violations of human rights who built the infrastructure for this (which you can’t), or if you could ignore the the country’s homophobia and sexism as state policy (which you cannot), or the obviously corrupt way they landed in the tournament in the first place (which you can’t), the sheer logistics of this tournament are a mess beyond comprehension.

Qatar, in land terms, is smaller than Connecticut. In terms of population, it’s just a little bigger than Nebraska. Imagine pouring 1.2 million tourists into this kind of space. And while Connecticut spans a bunch of semi-populated areas that no one should ever want to visit (Pepe’s is not this well, Yalees), Qatar is basically Doha and sand, at least for this tournament. Only the Al Bayt Sstadium is not in the Doha area. So basically everyone will be descending on a city for the entire tournament, trying to get to matches and having fun in between. Wherever you live, try to imagine 1.2 million more people on your way and see how it might turn out.

For this reason alone, Qatar should never have been granted the tournament. He’s just not equipped to handle it, no matter how much blood and oil money he can spill on officials, or how quickly he can build hotels, trains and stadiums, regardless of how many people die.

In this vein, Reuters today published a story that Qatar enlists some citizens in the country’s army to provide security for the tournament. This includes diplomats who worked abroad. Typically, when this type of tournament is prevalent in a populated country, you can find more than just people already working on the ground doing this sort of thing, and the local police forces have enough to spare. But again, Qatar is basically running this from one city, which is why it already had to borrow thousands of cops from Turkey.

And if you don’t think that checkpoints and security around a stadium for big football matches can’t immediately turn into a mess without careful planning, may we introduce Champions League final last spring.

This is clearly not the only big problem with the tournament in Qatar. We wonder how much we will hear about the monitoring app that each visitor must install on his phone when arriving in the country, which is not suspicious at all! Now you have security who are called in and trained just weeks before the tournament, and with Qatar relaxing some of the country’s alcohol laws around stadiums, well, this kind of scenes are not entirely implausible. Is a security force recruited with a week or more of training really ready for something like this if it were to happen? Can they get everyone into the stadium in an orderly and safe manner and get them out of the sun? They failed this test in the beginnings of a stadium, where the final will be played. We can’t stress it enough, the tournament is only a few weeks away.

What Qatar may be counting on is that FIFA will declare the tournament a success no matter what, as every official has already received their heavy briefcase. With the networks being based in the country for the tournament, they’re going to be awfully shy if they even consider reporting what’s happening on the pitch anyway. The glossy faceplate will be in place. But that’s yet another bullet in case it could be a total disaster.

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