Fake Qatar enthusiasts
It is without doubt one of the strangest minor tales of the strangest of World Cups. Shortly sooner than the hole recreation, Qatar as opposed to Ecuador, a bunch of fellows in uniform Qatari team-coloured T-shirts emerged en masse right into a vacant house at the back of the function and began making noise, doing choreographed dances and jumping about with it sounds as if authentic pleasure, one thing they saved up during the recreation regardless of what was once going down at the pitch.
At first it seemed like a professional parody, most likely an arch pastiche on fan tradition. But the tale of the bolt-on ultras was once additionally authentically Qatari, in a land the place the entirety is traded as a commodity from human exertions to staged human pleasure.
It grew to become out this team of round 1,500 younger (male) Lebanese, Egyptian and Algerian soccer supporters have been introduced unfastened flights, lodging, event tickets and a day by day allowance to faux to give a boost to Qatar. They got here in mid-October to jot down and rehearse their songs and dances. And now right here they had been, synthesizing pleasure at a recreation the place part the spectators left sooner than the top.
On the face of it this looks as if an open-and-shut outrage towards the theory of original fan tradition. But as ever there are facets. First, those had been authentic soccer enthusiasts of Middle Eastern golf equipment, extremely joyful to be doing one thing they by no means will have afforded another way. The faux-Qataris had been proud to give a boost to a crew “from the region” and noticed a type of pan-Arab cohesion within the display of give a boost to. “We share the same language. We share the same culture, we are fingers from the same hand,” said one of them, and it sounded fair enough. Fake real fans doing something real-fake, to create something oddly real. Welcome to Qatar 2022.
2 Green Carpet
The green carpet was laid out around dingy concrete stadium walkways, with the intention of simulating a pastoral sporting parade for photo opportunities. Managers and players were required to walk down the green carpet, thereby creating a staged “sports‑style” scene, like the photographs of footballers and cricketers sooner than rapid shutter speeds the place gamers would stand frozen in motion poses whilst a Brylcreemed guy known as Snapper Wilkins clanked an enormous flash bulb of their faces.
And grass is a tricky thing in Qatar generally. You must have grass. Grass is football. But grass is also not meant to be here. Pitches are watered and tended constantly at vast carbon cost. The landscaped Al Bidda park has lavish lawns manicured by a team of turf stylists, but this stuff has no life in it, no insects or worms, nothing but sand and glue. Twenty miles outside Doha, rising up out of the desert, Al Bayt Stadium has a wonderful rolling lawn around its southern end, a needless human engineering miracle, an Astroturfing scheme for the sake of an Astroturfing scheme. We have all walked the green carpet at this World Cup.
David Beckham’s image is constantly present in Qatar, as though he is now the national mascot, or perhaps a thrusting junior emir. But for all his visibility he remains mute and distant, a flattened image. It suits him. In many ways promoting a World Cup he initially expressed deep (generic) suspicions over what is the perfect Beckham moment, an act that has reduced him to his essence, an empty corporate power image, a flattened face for hire.
Every man has his price, and Beckham’s soul is at least reassuringly expensive. And this image is great because in it Beckham has finally become a logo. He is now a chin, a hairline, a sculpted beard, a baseline of pixelated symmetry. The other great thing about this new, improved Beckham is he could also be any nationality, a deracinated corporate swoosh.
Privately Beckham is said to be furious about the backlash for abandoning his previous set of principles in order to promote Qatar. He would prefer people used the word “engagement” instead, which is a more comforting word. His argument is, apparently, that nobody complained when he played for Paris Saint-Germain, a wonderful piece of dead‑end logic, and another convincing argument for remaining an icon, a logo, a jawline, or anything else that doesn’t involve expressingthoughts.
Andy Warhol would probably have done this to Beckham, unlocked the raw power of his inner inanity. Qatar has done it beautifully.
The motorized gondolas at the Villaggio Mall, a Qatari classic. This is a place that loves a bit of urban mimesis. Doha and its surrounds also have a fake Place Vendôme, a fake Champs-Élysées, even a fake Hackney in the guise of Stadium 974, with its billionaire-hipster aesthetic, the pretense of being built out of glossily reclaimed shipping containers.
It isn’t hard to see why. Doha is built on a plateau of desert scrub. There are no features. So why not borrow some. The fake Venice shopping center is almost old brand-new Doha by now. It has painted ceilings and soothing music piped. It has a strangely draining quality. It is also based on a fitting model. Venice is one of those cities that flourished and was then left behind, preserved in its splendor as a snapshot in time. Qatar’s entire nation-building project is about cashing in its own moment of peak wealth, making it permanent, fixed, carbon-proofed. And like Venice, Qatar is also now at the mercy of climate change. So, a nice twin doom-laden energy there. Oh well. Have a motorized gondola ride to nowhere.
5 Photo frames at Lusail
The lit posing frame at Lusail, a staged moment at a stage-set World Cup. Step inside the square and bathe in the light of Lusail, the world’s most startling future-city. Lusail is still more a concept than an actual city, conceived as an ark in the desert for the super-rich, and venue also for the World Cup final. Walking around this place is exhausting, an assault on the senses via constant piped music, scrolling lights, massive video screens. But it is also beautiful, so new, so empty, a hypothetical city for a hypothetical people, and the final level at this World Cup of painted backdrops.
6 Goal actualizations
Goal actualizations: why? In whose fevered imagination did it seem like a good idea to replay, in weird, faceless cartoon form on vast scrolling screens, the action that your live audience has just seen in the flesh? This is a Lionel Messi goal actualization. In all there have been more than 800 goal actualizations during the football actualization at the Qatar World Cup tournament actualization. A Gianni Infantino actualization has already sat center stage at the Virtual Stadium and hailed this World Cup as the greatest actualization of all time. Probably Qatar is just ahead of time as usual. Actualization feels like the future. So clean, so natural, no armbands, no ragged human edges.
7 Pre-match display
What do you wish to have for a World Cup? You want mild, noise, an iconography of World Cup-dom. You wish to block out the sky with drones and hearth and empty color. Qatar’s pre-match presentations were uniform and constant, like looking at a robotic specific pleasure on an never-ending loop. There is not anything new about this. All tournaments do it. Qatar’s success has been to synthesize the loudest event pleasure of all time, and to do it excessive of incessantly silent stadiums. Here some volunteers shake a flag whilst the inflatable World Cop seems to blow up into flames and historical past’s maximum brain-manglingly loud PA screams in boilerplate pleasure. Never has kick-off felt like one of these reduction in any carrying tournament. Finally some peace and quiet. Perhaps Qatar can now pack all of this generic white noise away and easily wheel it out once more for the inevitable Olympics.