Neymar Jr.- The mere pawn in Qatar’s bigger game play
On the one hand, you have the present day, a new-age poster boy of international football, Neymar Jr.
On the other hand, you have a sports company (Oryx Qatar Sports Investments), that hails from the richest country in the world, Qatar.
Now, we all remember that simple formula don’t we?
Money + Fame = Power.
Bam! We just cracked Qatar’s success mantra.
Before we dig any further here are a few facts:
- The Neymar buyout for Rs. 222 million euros from FC Barcelona to PSG was THE BIGGEST transfer fees paid in the history of football transfers.
- Neymar and the FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu had a longstanding feud that led to the departure of this prolific striker.
- The fans and board of FC Barcelona deemed Neymar to be a traitor but his own teammates let him go scot-free with no love lost. They knew the real story!
- Neymar has made ‘a few’ enemies at PSG too, but that bears little fruit on Qatar’s bigger picture. (And man is it big!)
- Barcelona is in a mess and Messi hasn’t yet signed a new contract with speculation that he may (re)join forces with former Barca and present Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola.
- Given the flak that Neymar got from the fans after leaving and given Messi’s allegiance to the club that produces world-class footballers, he may not leave after all.
Now, back to business.
Qatar is a country that has been in the news for all the wrong reasons and is willing to do whatever it takes to reverse that.
Here are some of those ‘wrong reasons’:
First, there were 5 middle eastern countries cutting ties with Qatar which then became 9 (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Mauritius, Mauritania, the Maldives, and Libya)
- Qatar Airways would be unable to traverse their airspace.
- Food prices will skyrocket as most of the essential items (Eggs, chicken, milk, cheese) are imported.
- Higher fuel prices.
Will this affect how the world sees Qatar?
Damn straight it will!
So how do they win back popular interest?
Win the fragile hearts of the most emotional people in the world – football fans!
Going shopping in Spain because that’s where the most precious footballers of the world co-exist!
Now, it was very easy breaking into FC Barcelona given the dying popularity of incumbent president Josep Maria Bartomeu amongst his own players. The fact that Messi did not respond to an extended contract at the Nou Camp explicitly stated the discontent within the ranks and files in the Catalan capital!
Qatar made its move by paying top dollar (euro) to make the biggest acquisition in the footballing world that threw the world into a state of temporary limbo and permanent shock! But buying Neymar wasn’t just buying any other player in the summer transfer window.
It was about buying a future Ballon d’Or winner, buying the poster boy for present day football, buying the hallowed redeemer to all of Brazil’s 20th-century problems! It was about sending a message to the footballing, business and political fraternity.
Neymar was happy to leave as he had zero confidence in the FC Barcelona board. He felt the board had lost interest in training and mentoring the youth through the academy and became more capitalist-Real Madrid-like who relied on bought players. Well, that was one of many of Neymar’s qualms with the board.
Qatar also has the World Cup 2022 hosting rights coming up which is just another step in their bid to go deeper into the sport turned business; football. (Breaks our heart to write that last line!)
222 million may seem a large amount to the world, but Qatar evidently isn’t in the same one as ours! – pays to be the richest in the world now doesn’t it?
Their world has another plot altogether and they are far from losing it! They just bagged the most marketable sportsperson in the world! So much win!
Is Qatar right in doing what they did? After all, they are under FIFA’s scanner for financial fair play which means offloading other big names at PSG like Draxler and Di Maria to balance the books. Seems like a typical, ruthless, heartless business move straight from the boardroom to us!