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Neymar da Silva Santos Junior

It’s official: Brazilian football star Neymar is leaving FC Barcelona for Qatar-backed Paris St. Germain (PSG).

The 25-year-old signed a five-year deal through June 2022 with the French club yesterday.

Before doing so, his lawyers paid a buyout clause fee of €222 million (QR966 million) to his former team.

That makes the deal the most expensive transfer in football history.

Signing Neymar is being seen as a big win for Qatar, which is embroiled in a months-long dispute with its neighbors.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Gulf expert Christopher Davidson said:

“This signing can demonstrate that Qatar is still viable, still able to have international influence and still able to be serious player in international soccer.”


But the transfer isn’t without obstacles. There are concerns that PSG is over-stepping UEFA rules about spending more than it earns.

The organization, which governs European football, will be looking into the financial implications in the coming years.

But in the meantime, Neymar and PSG said they are just focusing on the game of football and winning tournaments.

In a statement, PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi said:

“It is with immense joy and pride that we welcome Neymar Jr. to Paris Saint-Germain. Neymar Jr. is today one of the very best players in world football. His winning mentality, strength of character and sense of leadership have made him into a great player. He will bring a very positive energy to this club.”

And in his farewell speech to Barca fans this week, Neymar explained that it was time to move on and seek “new challenges.”

According to ESPN, he said:

“I accepted PSG’s proposition to try new achievements and help the club to win the titles that their crowd wants. They showed me a daring career plan and I feel ready to take on this challenge.”


All photos courtesy of QFA

There’s still a small chance that Qatar’s national football team will qualify to play in the 2018 World Cup, following last night’s surprise win over South Korea.

Qatar beat its rival 3-2 at Al Sadd Stadium. In a nod to the current Gulf dispute, the national team warmed up in shirts that carried the Emir’s face on them.

And much to residents’ delight, South Korean fans unfurled a “We Love Qatar” banner and waved Qatar flags to express their support for the country.

Coach resigns

Despite the win, Qatar’s coach resigned shortly after the game, according to Reuters.

Jorge Fossati of Uruguay had only been coach for less than a year. He was brought on to replace José Daniel Carreño, who was sacked in September due to the national team’s poor performance.


Qatar football coach Jorge Fossati

However, under Fossati the team still hasn’t met with much success. And until last night, it was at the very bottom of its six-team group, behind China and Syria.

The victory does buy it a little more time to try to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia. This is an important goal for Qatar, whose team has never qualified to play in the tournament.

Focusing on homegrown talent

It remains unclear why Fossati wishes to leave, though Qatar Football Association officials are expected to try to persuade him to stay, Reuters said.

However, in November, the coach did say he would resign if the federation decides to turn its focus to grooming homegrown players, instead of importing talent.

Reem Saad / Doha News

National team

At the time, he said:

“If the federation wants to go another way, I’ll respect its decision 100 percent. And it’ll be better for the Qatar national team to have another coach who supports that view.”

The national’s teams last two matches will be against Syria and China at the end of August and beginning of September.



UCI Road World Championships

More than 100 staff hired on temporary contracts during the UCI Road World Championships in Doha last October have still not been paid, Doha News has learned.

The employees have been told via email that their payments are late due to “unforeseen reasons” faced by the event’s local organizing committee (LOC).

The unpaid event staff were employed in a wide range of roles, from official journalists and photographers, to drivers and catering staff.

UCI Road World Championships/Twitter

2016 UCI Road World Championships

The workers, many of whom were employed by the LOC for more than a month, all had official contracts.

The race took place from Oct. 9 to 16 last year, and the employees expected payment for their work to follow shortly after the race finished.

The issue of late or non-existing payments is a long-standing one in Qatar and across the Gulf.

Qatar has been working to address this with a new Wage Protection System, but the problem persists.

‘Lost hope’

One of the 130 unpaid employees is owed QR6,000 for 13 days’ work.

He told Doha News that many of his former colleagues have gradually “lost hope” of ever being paid.

Simon Chan/Flickr

UCI Road World Championships 2016

The Doha resident, who asked not to be identified, said that a large group of staff had initially met to discuss their options.

They considered making official complaints with the Labor Court and the police, but gradually many members of the group gave up trying, he said.

He added that efforts to contact UCI management via email, Whatsapp and phone over the past several weeks proved fruitless.

“I went to the Qatar Sports Club (the LOC admin base) in person twice, but I always got the same response – insh’Allah (God willing),” he said.

‘No money left’

In an email to colleagues, another former unpaid employee summarized the group’s predicament:

“It has affected the lives of many of us and put us in a situation which is psychologically stressful – cancellation or postponement of personal or professional projects, difficulties to pay monthly rentals and/or loans, and unnecessary stress and worries.”

According to this email, unpaid employees had apparently been told by administration staff that the LOC had “no money left.”

Adam Hodges

Tour of Qatar 2016

Indeed, a few months after holding the UCI World Championships, officials said they would not be hosting the 2017 Tour of Qatar due to financial troubles.

That meant 2017 was the first time in 16 years that Qatar did not hold the men’s cycling event.

Apology – but no pay

Some UCI staff said they were promised that their salaries would eventually be paid by the Qatari government.

But then in March this year, the event’s organizers sent out an email to all unpaid employees promising payment soon.

Ray Toh / Doha News

UCI Road World Championships 2016

In the note, an unnamed HR manager at the LOC said:

“We would like to apologize for the delay in paying your financial dues due to unforeseen reasons by the organizing committee.

We would like to assure you that once we receive the financial resource dedicated for these payments, which we are expecting shortly, we will immediately pay your financial dues.”

The email also asked the former employees “not to consider any message” about the payments that was not sent to them from an official UCI source.

However, at the end of May, the staff have still not been paid.

Doha News attempted to reach various members of the Doha UCI LOC via email about this story over the past several weeks. But no one has replied to any of the messages.

Requests for comment from the UCI headquarters and the Ministry of Culture and Sports have also gone unanswered.