# 346 – Fifa, Qatar & Gaza by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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Sep 2016
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# 346 – Fifa, Qatar & Gaza

by Stephen Pohlmann

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FIFA, Qatar and Gaza

Football powers the ‘Deal of the Century’

Following suggestions from social media, and my previous ‘Letter from Israel # 340, entitled ‘BAD – Build Another Dubai’, a plan has been presented to the UN and the US administration that could actually bring President Trump’s plan for the Palestinians not only to the forefront, but into reality.

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Discreet meetings were held recently in Qatar between Sheikh Salim bin Balad al-Muni, FIFA’s President Alejandro Weiss and Hamas vice-President Mahmoud al-Bhuna, resulting in the following proposals:

  1. Construction of a 55,000-capacity stadium just outside Gaza City.

  2. Re-scheduling of 7 World Cup 2022 matches to be held at the new stadium.

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This follows much criticism of FIFA’s original nomination of Qatar as the host for the tournament, and subsequent suspicions, charges and investigations into corruption. Among the main issues were

  • The population of Qatar is 2.6 million, only 20% of which are Qataris, the rest being foreign workers. (There are no official stats on the male/female ratio).

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  • Fatalities among the construction workers have been estimated at over 1,000. The lack of safety regulations has been horrifying.

  • Each of the 8-12 stadiums (not yet decided) have a minimum capacity of 40,000, and are all within e-bike ride of each other. (It is said that the crowd roar from one stadium could potentially impact the atmosphere of the neighbouring stadium). An Israeli company was the first to bid for the e-bike/scooter rental contract.

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  • The post-tournament use of the stadiums is undecided. Offers to transport stadiums to needy locations in the Arab World are being considered. Cost will not be a factor. Other suggestions have been presented:

    • Weekly venue for at least one European league game. The Qataris can afford the crowd transportation costs.

    • Major international shopping mall, with car park in the centre.

    • Country club for the foreign workers.

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  • Normally held during the Summer, the 2022 tournament will be held in November/December, when temperatures hopefully drop below 50C. This will disrupt the European league season. The Qataris suggested giant air conditioners, but that would obviously affect the flight of the ball.

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  • Almost as a P.S., many football fans feel that had Mohamed Salah appeared 4-5 years earlier, Egypt would have been a far more logical choice for the games. Qatar could have donated the costs. Subsequently all other negative factors would have been resolved.

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Doubts about the practicality of the proposal have been clarified after extensive secret discussions with the Israel Football Association. They have persuaded their government to consider the following:

  • The Israel-Gaza border to be opened for the duration of the games.

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  • This would be controlled by a combined UN/Israel security force.

  • Ben Gurion Airport would be the official entry for the games in Gaza.

  • A rail line would be constructed, linking Ben Gurion Airport to Gaza City.

  • There would be no restriction on the nationality of ticket-holders. This would include Israelis. Security measures have already been agreed between Gaza and Israel.

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This all seems too fantastic to even consider. But this is the ‘raison d’être’ of the ‘Deal of the Century’. For the Palestinians and the surrounding Arab nations, it has always been difficult to accept the reality of the ‘Naqba’ – the establishment of the State of Israel within their midst. But the Palestinian people are hankering for a way to move forward. The focus on the World Cup games gives them a unique opportunity to ‘slip peace through the door’.

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