"The Qatar Foundation is an arm of a state which has refashioned the traditional model of slavery for the thousands of hapless Asian migrant laborers trapped within its borders. The emirate is also a generous backer of Hamas; the Iranian regime's propaganda station, Press TV, recently reported that the Hamas leadership may even be relocating to Qatar from Syria. Given that Qatar has been a key base for the Egyptian Islamist leader Sheikh Yousef al Qaradawi, and that its Al Jazeera satellite network has long been a mouthpiece for Hamas, such a move seems eminently plausible.
The Qatar Foundation itself is directly implicated in the financial network of Islamist terror. Professor Hatem Karanshawy, dean of its faculty of Islamic studies, chaired an Islamic Development Bank committee which just awarded a prize for "the promotion of Islamic economics" to the Islamic Foundation in the United Kingdom, a body closely tied to the global Muslim Brotherhood and Pakistan's Jama'at-e-Islami. The Foundation is also linked with the Union of the Good, an umbrella body of Islamist organizations which includes other ostensibly charitable Qatari institutions, and which financed the pro-Hamas flotilla to Gaza in May last year.
Buying a stake in the world's most popular sport, through its most august club, provides Qatar's rulers with an excellent instrument for fending off the criticism that Hamas terrorists, if they didn't insist upon civilian clothing when fighting, would, like Barcelona's players, be wearing uniforms embossed with the emirate's name. Indeed, last year's successful bid by Qatar to host the 2022 soccer World Cup, a project for which the ruling family enlisted the assistance of Barcelona's dashing coach, Pep Guardiola, was the investment's most handsome dividend yet.
Except that the Qataris may have overextended themselves. Right now, soccer's governing body, FIFA, is mired in a bribes scandal, and the Qataris are up to their necks in it. Already, Theo Zwanziger, Germany's soccer chief, has called for an investigation into just how this thoroughly nasty little kingdom landed the most coveted prize in international sport.
Will that bounce back onto the Barcelona deal, or even derail it? So far, there's precious little indication from the club itself that its distinctive version of the Red-Green alliance is to be dumped. However, if this agonized Barcelona supporter is anything to go by, the Nou Camp faithful may feel rather differently — and it is this "army of assorted liberals" that holds the key to the club's policy.
Maybe, just maybe, we are about to see an isolated example of the European left shrugging off the Islamist embrace. Mes que un Club? We'll see."