The last minute U-turn on selling alcohol in stadiums was certainly damaging to its hopes of hosting another global sporting event in the future – such as the Olympics – because it gives Qatar a reputation for being capricious.
From a sponsor perceptive, notably in this case the $75m official beer sponsor Budweiser, it shows a lack of consideration by the host country; not because of the understandable attitude towards alcohol by this Muslim nation, but because the Qatari royal family decided to change its mind at the eleventh hour.
Clearly, the Qataris have been angered by the fierce criticism in western media of the country’s approach to the human rights of workers and the LGBTQ+ community, which continue to dominate the news agenda rather than the football.
And arguably, Qatar’s rulers have a right to feel aggrieved. It is noticeable how much worse the public criticism is of this World Cup host, a political ally of the West, than the previous host, Russia, in 2018 – a country not exactly renowned for liberalism and tolerance.
Indeed, Russia and China have hosted Olympics in the past couple of decades without the ire aimed at diminutive Qatar.
The trouble is Qatar has upset too many nations in the process of this ill-fated World Cup. This started of course, with the shady awarding of the tournament in the first place, under the aegis of a now disgraced Fifa board.
Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers has been a media scandal not only in the West but in Asia as well, from where it draws the majority of its migrant workforce. And even in the Middle East, Qatar lacks allies, thanks to historically poor relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.