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World Cup and Human Rights in Qatar: Survey Results of Qatar PAYOFF Project

First results of the Qatar PAYOFF study on the FIFA Qatar World Cup 2022 show that the propaganda effect of the sport event depends to a large extent on the quality of the media landscape. The research project uses successive surveys to examine how the World Cup has changed the way foreign countries view the authoritarian regime in Qatar. Johannes GerschewskiHeiko GieblerMichael Zürn, Sebastian Hellmeier (WZB Berlin) and Eda Keremoglu (Universität Konstanz) developed questions that were or will be addressed to almost 16,000 people in eight European countries before, during and after the World Cup.

News from Jan 03, 2023

Authoritarian regimes increasingly use major international sporting events to improve their international reputation and distract from human rights abuses. For this reason, the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar was highly controversial. The Gulf state had hoped that its role as host would boost its international image.

Researchers from SCRIPTS and collaborating institutions conducted a survey as part of the SCRIPTS Qatar PAYOFF project a few weeks before, during, and after the World Cup. The before and after comparison is intended to prove the reputation effects of this World Cup. Michael Zürn, director of SCRIPTS and the Research Unit Global Governance at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center (WZB), and Sebastian Hellmeier, Research Fellow of the Research Unit Transformations of Democracy at the WZB, now describe results of the first survey wave in an article.

According to the researchers, the study results show how strongly the perception of Qatar differed in Europe even before the World Cup kicked off. The rulers in Qatar have not achieved their goal of putting the human rights situation in a better light. The results reveal that where the awarding and preparation of the World Cup were accompanied by critical reporting. In particular, the German media landscape, along with that in Sweden, is doing well in that regard.

The Qatar PAYOFF project conducted within the framework of SCRIPTS examines how the World Cup has changed the way foreign countries view the authoritarian regime in Qatar (full description here). For this purpose, a collaborative team of researchers from WZB, Freie Universität Berlin and Universität Konstanz surveyed in total 16,000 people in eight European countries before and during the tournament. In the first wave, around 1,800 people were surveyed in each country. The second survey took place during the tournament, and the third wave of surveys will follow in spring 2023.

The article "World Cup and human rights in Qatar: Where the propaganda effect failed" by Michael Zürn and Sebastian Hellmeier is available here on the website of the WZB.
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