Iranians Arrested after Celebratory World Cup Video

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Allyson Cartwright, Contributing JournalistLast Modified: 16:42 p.m. DST, 09 July 2014

Ali karimi and Nakamura Shunsuke during their the World Cup 2006 qualifying match in Tehran, Photo by  MEVA_SLS

TEHRAN, Iran — For the second time in the past few months, Iran authorities have arrested those involved in making a celebratory music video. Last month, six individuals were arrested and since released for filming a music video to the Pharrell Williams song “Happy”.

This week, three individuals have been arresting for filming a music video entitled “Gole Iran” by the London-based Ajam Band in support of Iran’s World Cup football team. VICE News reports that those arrested are two 23-year-olds, who can be seen in the video, and a 26-year-old photographer.

Like in the video that the young Iranians made to “Happy”, Iranian authorities have issue with the women in the videos being shown not wearing headscarves. The official IRNA news agency of the state released a quote from police chief Colonel Rahmatollah Taheri, who called the World Cup music video “vulgar”, according to Associated Press.

For this reason, the World Cup video was also condemned by Iranian authorities because it is illegal for women without scarves to be in—and especially dance in—public. In this World Cup video, both men and women can be seen dancing and singing in various locations in Iran, including the city where the arrests were made, Sharoud. They are shown waving Iran’s flag and playing musical instruments.

Iran has been known to censor websites in the past, but with the arrests made from the highly-viewed “Happy” video and “Gole Iran” videos it appears that Iranian authorities are making examples of viral videos to Mahsa Alimardani, an Iranian-Canadian internet researcher, specializes in human rights criticized the arrests telling Mashable, "They're trying to make a point about the world cup festivities, and this is the only way they can scare people. It's really ridiculous."

The punishment of the makers of the video echoes sentiments of the country’s hardliners who are aiming to steer the country away from what they consider Western “decadence”. However, the country’s more moderate president Hassan Rouhani has sought for more cultural and social tolerance in Iran. Despite this, internet censorship apparently still has a presence as this is the second public arrest made over a harmless YouTube video.

There are thirteen credited individuals in the making of “Gole Iran”, including the seven members of Ajam Band, who wrote the song played in “Gole Iran”. Aside from the seven-member band, there are six that were responsible for the directing, editing, filming, and graphics, according to VICE News. The roles of the individuals arrested in making the video remains unknown. In the case of the “Happy” arrests, the detained parties included the dancers and the film’s director.

The video published days before the World Cup commenced garnered 30,000 views on YouTube and now has over 300,000 views. Agence France-Press said the video aired on satellite television in Iran, which is watched illegally by many of its people. Iran was eventually knocked out of the competition June 25 after impressively holding their own against semi-finalists Argentina. Amir Jahnashai, the founder of an Iranian opposition television channel in London tweeted, “The entire Iranian nation today supports our football team. Such solidarity should be present in all fields,” as was the message of “Gole Iran”.

Follow Allyson on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

Qatar's Strategy for Post-Oil Economy | FIFA World Cup 2022

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Vinita Tiwari, Middle East CorrespondentLast Modified: 22:50 p.m. DST, 12 June 2014

Qatar Airways, Photo by Erick Espinosa

DOHA -- Qatar will be the hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022. The event is huge and the results expected out of it are anticipated to be equally impressive. Let us unfold the significance of the event for Qatar and how it can improve the fortunes for all the emirates.

United Nations' Study on the Correlation between Sport Events & Economy

There are certain facts that never lose its authenticity and keep on backing the instances even for years. Sports events produce an incredible number of economic and social benefits for the country in which a globally followed and prestigious event such as the World Cup.

Research conducted by the United Nations, which was later published in a number of known papers on this economic, strongly supports the correlation between sport events and the capacity for a country to leverage revenue to effect social change.

In the case of Qatar, it is looking toward a post-oil boom economy to other revenue streams. Though, a sporting event and the revenue generated cannot compare to that generated by oil sales, it does indicate a trend toward seizing opportunities that provide the initial entree into alternate streams of income.

Below are some of the facts shared in the study

An important wing of the United Nations Organization and one of the top contributors in the research, Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), mentioned that:

  1. Sport and physical education can effectively contribute to economic and  social growth;
  2. That hosting World Sports events contribute towards promoting good will which facilitates the development of substantive dialogue;
  3. Sporting events transcend the barriers of religion, culture, and nationalism, thus giving rise to an equitable society and thereby a more prosperous nation.

The study asserts its position based upon historical evidence of past cross-cultural promotional efforts and the positive benefits that were the result of these interactions. In fact, recognized organizations and personalities from known sport teams like Italian National Workers Compensation Authority (INAIL), veterans associated with Brazilian soccer team, World Sports Alliance, to name few, agreed with the premise that sports events engender participation and joie de vivre.

FIFA World Cup: Why Qatar?

Since most emirates in the Gulf region are brimming with economic success, some may question why the World Sports Alliances chose Doha, a city in Qatar to host the FIFA 2022? Here are some of the reasons that made Qatar the ‘hot’ choice:

  • Huge Cost Incurred in ‘Green’ Efforts: According to Zawya, Qatar has proposed to spend a whopping $50 billion on infrastructure;
  •  Use of Solar Power: The proposal is loaded with other positive points; one of them is that the air-cooled stadiums will be powered by solar power and there will be inputs to make use of renewable energies to host the game in a safe environment;
  •  The Efforts Met the Fate: The efforts brought in a lot of applaud from the spectators who were keeping a strict watch on the countries that were a part of the race. Qatar left behind economically strong countries like the United States of America and earned 14 plus votes.

Consequently, according to the United Nations research revealed above, Qatar will receive a good boost to the already flourishing economy.

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Published: 12 June 2014 (Page 2 of 2)

The Foreseen Economic Benefits

Any event happening within a country assures a lot of fiscal benefits as well as encouraging foreign investments and visitors to explore a region of the world that they might otherwise choose. The investments received would be directed towards upgrading the infrastructure and hospitality domain. The economy and the job market share inter-dependencies that require that each grows in portion to the other to balance out the macro benefits.

  1. A Bright Example

South Africa is a prime example of this phenomenon. 2010 proved to be a fortunate year for the country when it hosted the World Cup games, which helped the country to realize an increase in foreign trade, investments as well as boost the tourism market sector. Per the hard data, the total awareness factor of South Africa as a leisure destination increased by an estimated 9% after the event. Though the return on investment was not as high, the event still gave rise to a lot of employment opportunities pertaining to the tourism and hospitality jobs.

  1. Qatari Economy: Expected Good Things!

Already riding high with high expat rate, enviable per capita income figures, and a free economy; Qatar is one of the richest and leading oil exporters. Apart from this, the employment market is picking up the pace and is even more ‘hotter’ in the recent times.

The return on investment” is expected sky rocket and the job market will exponentially expand to accommodate the infrastructure, service, technology, and tourism sectors.  Some of the obvious economic benefits are:

  • The world cup will be viewed by millions of people and the wealth and economic stature of Qatar will be staged globally. This digital twist will definitely lure the investors from different countries to seek opportunities to partner in business ventures;
  •  The tourism domain will receive positivity as people will be attracted to be a part of the grand event and thus temporary migration is expected;
  •  In order to be the best host around, the construction domain will be more active as it initiates the building of roads, subway systems, and other infrastructure required to effectively host the event;
  1. “Where There is Good, There is Bad!”

The fact can’t be ignored that good things come with shades of darkness. Qatar is definitely going to benefit economically from the opportunity to host the FIFA World Cup 2022; but there are certain facts that we just can’t ignore. Here are some of the factors arranged as a series of events that can create minor issues for the host state:

  • Since Qatar houses rich citizens, the import of poor workers from foreign countries to build the roads, stadiums, and the subway system that will be necessary to host the World Cup may cause socioeconomic tensions because of the disparity of wealth and opportunity;

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Published: 12 June 2014 (Page 3 of 3)

  • The potential for large numbers of immigrants to remain in the country after the event, may cause an unanticipated drain on the economy as Qatar struggles to deal equitably with this immigrant population, a problem with which many other nations wrestle with. However, one strategy is to incentivize the laborers to return to their countries of origin through generous allotment of wages;
  •  The economic and job opportunities provided by this event can be leveraged by these temporary workers to improve their lives and perhaps provide them with skills that they might not otherwise have obtained in their own countries, but it may not be enough to encourage them to return to their homeland;
  •  Finally, the job opportunities for Qatar residents will increase since new jobs will be created to maintain and service all areas of infrastructure improvements or development once the event has concluded; but an equally great chance exists that Qataris may end up competing with skill immigrates for the same jobs in the future.

Whatever the challenges, Qatar is set to be the FIFA 2022 host and is leaving no stone unturned in making the event spectacular, enjoyable, and economically beneficial for all people.

Qatar Opening Up To a Green Perspective

The state of Qatar is known for its wealth-creating Oil reserves; however, with government initiatives to diversify the economy, the emirate is looking forward to engaging in non-Oil based private sector ventures which will initiate job creation. A little known fact is that Qatar has not forgotten its social responsibilities and is striving to provide Eco-friendly environment, and economy driven by companies that value and support employee satisfaction, and incentivizing workers by providing some of the best paying jobs in the region. Thus, Qatar has set forth the following goals and objectives;

  1. Companies based out in Qatar are implementing occupational safety policies designed to protect employees, and are urging the government bodies to legislate these improvements so that these improvements will also benefit post-FIFA World Cup 2022 workers;
  2. FIFA 2022 itself represents a great initiative for Solar Energy which will be used to power the stadiums and air-conditioning where the games will be held;
  3. Then, there are councils and operating bodies based in Qatar, such as IOSH, Qatar Branch, that focuses on business development and ensuring that companies who decide to do business in Qatar can be assured that their workers will be safe both inside and outside of the workplace.

The Verdict

The benefits of hosting a FIFA World Cup are indisputable, and certainly the economic drivers are crucial to the desire for a country to be awarded such an honor. However, it is not only about monetary gain, it is also about the reputation, profile, brand of any country. If the elements are targeted correctly then a lot of positive global attention can be focused on both the games and the country, thus encouraging people to hopefully dispel any preconceived notions and just have fun!

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Follow Vinita on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Middle East Correspondent: @vinita1204

World Cup Gridlocked in São Paulo

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SÃO PAOLO, Brazil -- The demonstration that shutdown subway networks in São Paulo, Brazil has halted, if only momentarily, after having plagued the biggest city in Brazil since last Thursday, 5 June 2014 .

Organizers of the transit union walkout suspended the five-day protest this morning, 10 June, in response to escalating traffic congestion that have turned the streets of São Paulo into one giant gridlock. International soccer enthusiasts have turned to taxi services in order to travel to Arena Corinthians, a major stadium located outside of São Paulo city limits.

Both sides in the ongoing saga are looking to compromise, although the leaders of the São Paulo transit union and Governor Geraldo Alckmin are currently stuck in stalemate. 60 employees have been fired after chaos erupted during union demonstrations yesterday, 9 June 2014.

During the protest on Monday, riot police removed the demonstrators by any means necessary, scattering hundreds of union members and sympathizers with stun grenades, tear gas and pepper spray. But the hostility between police and protestors has only further divided the opposing camps.

The São Paulo transportation union is now warning that subway employees will not return to work on Thursday, 12 June, unless the 60 employees are rehired and a 12.2% wage increase is met by authorities. On Thursday, Brazil welcomes the world to São Paulo during the opening World Cup match between Brazil and Croatia.

In the months leading up to the biggest sporting event in the world, Brazil has spent billions on infrastructure and planning. The effort to accommodate masses of international spectators has angered many Brazilians, especially those living in poverty. Those most affected include the residents evicted from select slums throughout Rio de Janeiro in preparation for World Cup fervor.

Governor Alckmin will honor a 8.7% increase in worker's salary, but has firmly rejected the 12.2% demand. Also, he has notified union officials that the fired men and women will not recover their lost jobs. Unless Alckmin or the union authorities rethink their position, continued disorder is guaranteed throughout Sao Paulo in the coming days.

The subway stoppage is only one of many concerns in an ongoing saga of protests against the Brazilian government. Notably, the eviction of blacks to make way for parking lots in Rio have been called racially-biased and unjust. Prices have increased for products across the board, surpassing even high-end predictions. And the investment of billions of dollars into the tournament has upset even more throughout the country.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Brazillians widely disapprove of the direction of their country. An April poll affirmed that 72% of nationals are discontented with their government.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

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FIFA Fans & Sex Tourism

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Jessamy Nichols, Contributing JournalistLast Modified: 17:40 p.m. DST, 09 June 2014

Brazilian Sexy Fan Girl, Photo by Fotowolf70

Eyes all over the globe are turning to Brazil, where the 2014 World Cup begins on June 12th. Hundreds of thousands of people will travel to the South American country in hopes of watching exhilarating games, tense overtime moments and emotional victories for their team of choice. For many, the tournament serves as a bonding thread that brings people of all races and nationalities together over the love of the sport and its history.

However, off the soccer field, there are illegal and horrifying trends that follow such global tournaments such as these. Sports events like World Cups and Olympics bring in an influx of tourists, construction workers, event staffers, and others, which creates a disorderly balance that host cities are commonly unprepared for.

In recent weeks, there has been international concern over men coming to Brazil to engage in sex with underage children, which is especially alarming because Brazil has long been seen as a prime getaway for men who want to engage in carefree sexual exploits.

In an article published May 24th, The Independent stated that girls as young as 11 are being targeted by human traffickers in advance of the World Cup to work as prostitutes and bring in money for pimps and gangs. To make matters worse, there is currently a "culture of silence" around the issue, where families and even law enforcement keep quiet on the growing issue.

Many human rights groups around the globe have been trying to bring awareness to this compounding issue by speaking out and producing documentaries. However, it seems like this widespread and deeply engrained problem in Brazil requires much more action and vocality before there would even be a possibility of it being resolved.

To keep these innocent children out of harm's way, there will need to be a full-fledged effort from local and international law enforcement, human rights groups, internet monitoring groups to monitor the deep parts of the web where these transactions can take place, and an aware audience. At the end of the day, is a soccer match worth sacrificing any child's innocence and sense of safety?

Follow Jessamy on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @JessamyNichols