57% of young Arabs back Qatar World Cup amid bribery claims

Arab Youth Survey also shows 65% think 2022 tournament will encourage the development of football in region

Over half (57 percent) of young Arabs believe Qatar was the right choice to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup while two thirds (65 percent) think the tournament will encourage the development of football across the Arab world, according to the findings of the 6th Annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey.

Support for a Qatar World Cup is strongest in the GCC countries with 61 percent saying the Gulf state was the right choice to host the tournament compared to 54 percent in the non-GCC Arab countries, the survey said.

Over a quarter (26 percent) of youth in non-GCC countries and 25 percent in the Gulf states “don’t know” if Qatar was the right choice while 14 percent and 20 per cent in GCC and non-GCC countries, respectively, believe it was the wrong choice.

Qatar's bid has attracted controversy from the outset because of the extreme summer heat during the months when the Cup is played and the tiny country's lack of domestic soccer tradition.

In the last week, sponsors Adidas, Sony and Visa have called on FIFA to deal thoroughly with allegations of bribery to secure the 2022 World Cup for Qatar. The Gulf state has denied any wrongdoing.

Qatar beat bids from Australia, Japan, the United States and South Korea for the right to stage the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The Arab Youth Survey is an annual initiative of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller. Its sister agency, polling firm PSB, which officially established its Middle East offices in January of this year, conducted 3,500 face-to-face interviews with exclusively Arab national men and women aged 18-24 in the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Yemen and Palestine.

The survey showed that optimism about the development of football in the Arab world on the back of the tournament win is broadly consistent between the GCC and non-GCC countries with just over two thirds (68 percent) in the six Gulf states agreeing that Qatar hosting the tournament will positively impact the game compared to 64 percent in non-GCC countries.

Just 18 percent of young Arabs aged 18-24 do not think the tournament will have a positive impact on football in the region while 17 percent “don’t know”.

Sunil John, CEO of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, said: “Support for a Middle East FIFA World Cup remains high across the Arab world with two thirds of all youth agreeing that Qatar’s hosting right will encourage the development of football across the region.

"Despite the ongoing controversy surrounding the bid, there appears a great deal of optimism amongst youth that the Gulf state was the right choice to host the tournament.”

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