It’s fair to describe Qatar as an unpleasant place. Same-sex relationships are punishable by seven years in prison, women do not have the same human rights as men, and freedom of expression is nonexistent. It’s a Yorkshire-sized slice of desert that happens to sit on an ocean of oil, and it’s younger than Gareth Southgate. The sole reason Qatar – a country where 95% of the population is migrant workers often forced into scandalously exploitative contracts – was awarded the World Cup in 2010 is money: since then, 6,500 labourers from sub-continental Asia alone have died in uninvestigated circumstances, but that’s not enough to stop David Beckham accepting a £10m deal to be a Qatar 2022 ambassador. These facts should disqualify Qatar from hosting the World Cup, but even if you take the brainlessly myopic ‘focus on the football’ approach, it will still be the most uninspiring edition in history. Qatar has no football culture and a climate so harsh that Fifa broke its own bidding rules by switching to a winter tournament. FIFA President Joseph Blatter is flanked by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov (right) and Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, after the announcement in 2010 that Russia would host the 2018 World Cup and Qatar would host the 2022 World Cup (credit AP Photo/Michael Probst).
Frasers department store, along with new Sports Direct and Flannels, will anchor Blackpool’s former Debenhams building.
A seagull loses its foot in a new halogen light in Blackpool, prompting a council investigation.
For the past 12 years, Qatar has been hurriedly constructing stadiums, one of which is located in the plastic city of Lusail, which was built specifically for the World Cup. Fans who attend will be subjected to exorbitant hotel prices (despite the fact that Fifa has bagged 80% of the rooms) and £15 pints. If you take your shirt off after a goal, you will be ejected from the stadium. World Cups are supposed to be about having fun and exchanging cultures, but Qatar is an authoritarian state with little appealing culture to share. Due to exorbitant broadcast fees, fans will not even be able to watch games on TV in their hotel – players participating in the World Cup will not be able to watch the World Cup themselves. According to new reporting restrictions, the BBC and ITV will be effectively prohibited from filming at locations such as migrant workers’ accommodation sites if they want to broadcast the football. According to the London-based human rights organization FairSquare, this will have a “chilling effect on free expression,” but Qatar’s supreme committee says it will not, so that’s fine. Enjoy.