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In November 2022 Qatar hosts the first Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region FIFA World Cup. This paper seeks to understand the use of football as a soft power political tool in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Based on culture, values and policies, soft power is power through attraction as opposed to coercion. The stronger one player’s values, culture and policies are, the more soft power that player has. Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, traditional fossil fuel-based states, suffer from a lack of attraction. By investing in football, each nation hopes to project a new image and ensure future relevance. Qatar uses football to increase its standing in the international community, helping to ensure its own protection in case of regional disputes. The UAE uses football to help convert itself into an international travel and business centre, while Saudi Arabia invests in football to help project a progressive image of itself to the world and ensure regime security

Publication Information

AKU-ISMC: London, 2022


Abdou Filali-Ansary Occasional Paper Series




ISSN 2633 - 8890


Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Soft Power, Soft Disempowerment, Sportswashing, Attraction, Coercion

Football as Soft Power: The Political Use of Football in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia