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Soccer.  PSG: will Qatar stay once the World Cup is over?  – Soccer

Qatar’s investment in Paris SG, and its use as a tool for the “soft power” of the gas emirate for ten years, should not be called into question once the FIFA World Cup has passed in a year, believe specialists. What will Qatar do after the World Cup is over? Will he continue to invest so much in the Parisian club when the emirate has already spent more than a billion euros since the acquisition of the club by QSI in 2011 without winning the Champions League?

This question crosses the ranks of observers of French football, and more particularly the supporters of the Parisian club, who have seen Kylian Mbappé, Neymar and Lionel Messi sign in Paris, sometimes in defiance of financial logic.

“Global tool of seduction”

However, it seems almost irrelevant. “I think the World Cup is only a passage, it is already a triumph in itself for Qatar to have obtained it. But that should in no way modify their policy, ”estimates Raphaël Le Magoariec, doctoral student in geopolitics, specialist in Gulf countries. Predicting the future and the diplomatic strategy of a country is a perilous exercise, warn specialists. The risks are numerous, and several factors can intervene and possibly modify a valid analysis grid at a given moment. But the strategy driven by the emirate for nearly 30 years seems to be well established.

Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, president of Paris SG. (File photo Ian Langsdon / EPA)

Born in the early 1990s, this expression of “soft power” was described by the American theorist of international relations, Joseph Ney. It designates the power of influence, of persuasion of an entity over another actor, without coercive means.

“Shortly after the United States invaded Iraq, Qatar asked itself the question: what can prevent them from such an attack? It is not its army, nor its tankers, nor its technology. It is Western public opinion ”, summarizes Marc Lavergne, geopolitologist, research director at CNRS and at the University of Tours.

“Qatar has developed a whole set of pillars that can be linked to ” soft power ”, art, world sports policy in which the Paris SG is a tool of global seduction. It is the construction of a smooth, exotic, idealized image. Qatar is not going to stop developing this strategy tomorrow, ”he adds.

“Best showcase in the emirate”

A policy that allowed it to appear on the geopolitical map. “Almost 15 years ago, Qatar did not exist in public opinion,” said Marc Lavergne. “Paris SG is central in this policy, with the club, they affect the whole world”, assures the university. The latest episode of Kylian Mbappé’s non-transfer this summer despite an offer from Real Madrid of 180 million euros was seen by some as financial heresy. “But the economists questioned in France do not have the reading grid of Qatar”, estimates Raphaël Le Magoariec, “we must compare these investments with those of a Ministry of Defense”.

Soccer.  PSG: will Qatar stay once the World Cup is over?  – Soccer
epa06187581 PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi attends a press conference during the presentation of new Paris Saint Germain player Kylian Mbappe (unseen) in Paris, France, 06 September 2017. EPA-EFE / ETIENNE LAURENT (EPA-EFE)

The horizon of the World Cup does not matter much in view of the success so far of the strategy of the emirate. “From the start and still today, PSG has been, in my opinion, a major investment for the country. For some, this is the best showcase of the emirate, ”corroborates Carole Gomez, director of research in the geopolitics of sport at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (Iris) in Paris.

“A strategic ally of France”

“I don’t believe in a divestment the day after the World Cup. On the one hand, because the geopolitical and economic reasons which pushed Doha to invest in sport are still present. It is always a question of asserting its difference vis-à-vis its neighbors, in particular the Saudi Arabians and Emirati, but also of diversifying its economic investments in order to think about the post-gas phase, ”estimates Carole Gomez.

In addition, the links between Qatar and France go beyond the framework of this sporting strategy. “Qatar is a strategic ally of France, and has been for years,” recalls Marc Lavergne. An alliance in which the Parisian club is only one element, but a sensitive element. “Everything that touches the Paris SG is extremely sensitive, it is in the hands of the emir. It is eminently strategic ”, assures Raphaël Le Magoariec.

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