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A Free Trip To The World Cup Will Only Cost Your Soul

Sign at the qatar world cup
Simon Holmes/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It is difficult to quantify the level of guilt with pleasure involved in following the Qatar World Cup, what the horrors that have marked the enterprise from its inception. But let's put it this way: The tournament organizers are now trying to Yelp their way out of any potential brackish aftertaste.

According to Reuters, said organizers are paying groups of fans to travel to the tournament, saying they are asking them for positive comments on social media in return. In other words, they are comping your meal in exchange for you willfully and publicly confusing the price ($0) with the flavor (as yet undetermined). It's liking a tweet before seeing it, before Elon The Happy Pirate makes you pay for liking the tweet you haven't seen.

"The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) confirmed the policy of inviting groups of supporters to the finals as guests after reports by Dutch public broadcaster NOS, which said on Sunday that Qatar was paying for flights and hotels for a group of 50 Dutch fans," the story reads. "In return, these supporters have had to sign a 'code of conduct' urging them to post favourable comments about the tournament on social media and to report 'any offensive, degrading or abusive comments' by others to the SC, preferably with screenshots.'"

This is a level of pure and unadulterated brass that Donald Trump would cheerfully have done in the 2020 election if his M.O. wasn't to stiff his benefactors and contributors as part of the electoral experience. The Qataris are good for the money, one would think, as long as you are good with the puppetry.

The Reuters story in and of itself is both hilariously disturbing and disturbingly hilarious, in that it straightforwardly quotes the SC's code of conduct with this post-Orwellian gag:

In its code of conduct, the SC asks the Fan Leaders to agree to incorporate its content in their social media posts and to support the World Cup by liking and resharing posts by third parties about the tournament. It also states that fans are not expected to be a "mouthpiece" for Qatar, but adds it "would obviously not be appropriate to disparage Qatar, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy or the FIFA World Cup."


Let's review that literary gem for what it is. Anyone taking up the offer would be paid to act as a mouthpiece for Qatar, but not expected to be a mouthpiece for Qatar until it is time to be a mouthpiece for Qatar, which in this case would be for as long as one is in Qatar. This is a monument of circular logic that should leave you in a heap on the ground wondering why your internal organs are now fully external.

You would imagine that American sporting entrepreneurs would do the same thing if not for the troublesome phrase "as guests." That would apply an exchange of value for value that most franchise operators would find onerous, given that in the U.S. business model, media entities buy the rights to events and then as part of the deal laud the people they pay whether they are laudatory or not. Getting paid by someone so that they can get permission to lie to the audience about the value of the product is what our boldest innovators do, and so far it has worked brilliantly—for the owners. They never miss a chance to take down critical signs at events, and would shoot down planes with critical streamers if those feckless weenies at the FAA weren't so squeamish about neighborhoods being littered with flaming bits of fuselage.

It may be that the Qataris may not yet be at the sporting economic stage where the service and the money flow the same way, or more likely, they see the potential for dissatisfaction that would ruin the whole sportswashing experience for them.

Either way, now you know that if you happen to have a pal who's going to the World Cup and he or she sends you a postcard that reads, "Having a wonderful time here, I've been told," you'll know something's up. At minimum, you'll definitely know that you need some more discerning pals.

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