Perceptions of FIFA Men’s World Cup 2022 Host Nation Qatar in the Twittersphere

in International Journal of Sport Communication

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Susan DunNorthwestern University in Qatar, Doha, Qatar

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Hatim RachdiNorthwestern University in Qatar, Doha, Qatar

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Shahan Ali MemonNew York University Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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Rohith Krishnan PillaiLifeware Labs, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

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Yelena MejovaISI Foundation, Turin, Italy

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Ingmar WeberQatar Computing Research Institute, Ar-Rayyan, Qatar

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The FIFA Men’s World Cup Qatar 2022 has been analyzed through the frameworks of nation branding and soft power. As the world’s most popular sport event, the World Cup has the possibility to enhance host nations’ images internationally, but we are not aware of empirical work attempting to assess public perceptions of Qatar, despite the considerable attention it has been paid. Accordingly, we assessed the discussion in the Twittersphere to shed some light on whether Qatar’s nation-branding and soft power attempts are reflected in public perceptions. We collected, geotagged, and analyzed 4,458,914 tweets with the word “Qatar.” We found that, contrary to the expectations of the organizers in Qatar, host nation status has not necessarily brought better nation branding or enhanced soft power, especially in the Global North. We conclude that social media’s interactive nature, which enables users to influence the discussion agenda, should have been considered by event organizers.

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