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When the process of bidding for the 2022 FIFA World Cup started in 2009, the nomination of Qatar for the place to hold the event seemed quite legitimate due to the changes that the state has been witnessing over the past few years (Tabash & Dhankar, 2014).
Seeing that the current leader of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, has been working on the relationships with the Gulf neighbors, the economic growth and reinforcement of the political stability of the state was expected, which means that Qatar was quite capable of managing the World Cup 2020 (Qatar, 2015). Therefore, the process of preparing for the World Cup 2020 was launched in the state. However, recent information leaks have pointed to the cover-up of deaths of migrant workers employed to build the stadium.
Since both parties have taken rather ambiguous stances in the argument regarding the death of the Qatar workers, the local authorities denying the incident blindly and the opponents making allegations unsupported by facts, the process of managing the conflict should be viewed as rather dubious.
Instead of focusing on the actual source of the conflict and pointing to the problems that need to be addressed, both sides preferred to adopt a rather aggressive approach. Approached from the perspectives of image restoration and excellence theories, the problem in question may become solvable.
The apologia provided by the Qatar state authorities can be deemed as an attempt to sweep the controversial information under the rug. While the willingness of the Qatar government to look innocent is quite understandable, the fact that the authorities’ statements conflict with the ones that cycle around the modern media exacerbates the situation for Qatar, creating premises for not only depriving it of the right to hold the event but also the involvement in a major conflict.
Indeed, most official statements issued by the Qatar government seem to dismiss the idea of it having any issues regarding the migrant labor. The specified strategy can be viewed as an effect of the short response time (Fearn-Banks, 2009, p. 6).
Resulting from the lack of thought put into the response to the conflict factor, the state authorities’ attitude may seem to be rather careless and have a lack of thought. A closer look at the subject matter, however, will show that the reasons for the Qatar government to react the given way to the accusations spreading online are much more complicated than having little time to think.
The key problem causing the ambiguity of the situation concerns the conflict of priorities in the specified scenario. Particularly, the FBI research of the problem points to the potential threat that the construction of the stadium poses to the workers employed by proving that numerous Nepalese employees died previously performing similar types of construction work.
The Qatar authorities, however, seem to be misled about the specified claim, trying to prove that no accidents have occurred during the construction of the stadium so far. Failing to understand the gravity of the situation, The Qatar authorities clearly have a communication problem and, therefore, are unable to understand the concern of the states involved (Herwees, 2015).
Therefore, the problem needs to be addressed primarily from the perspective of the theory of image restoration. The issue concerning the spur of the rumors growth should also be brought up. Although, according to the Qatari authorities, no accidents have occurred during the construction so far, numerous members of the press seem to have taken liberties with the issue by making statements concerning hundreds of people dying in the course of the stadium construction (Reevy, 2014).
Thus, the rumor regarding the actual accidents is gradually growing out of proportions, making the relationships between the parties involved very uncomfortable and fueling the conflict to the point where it goes out of control. Spreading these rumors any further presupposes that Qatar may lose the support and trust of the rest of the world; therefore, it is highly likely that the state officials along with the residents of Qatar may experience a downgrade in the economic development, political relationships, and financial stability rates.
When it comes to defining the approach that the Qatari government uses to address the conflict, one should consider the adoption of the image restoration theory (Fearn-Banks, 2009). Suggesting that organizations should be aware of the opinion that the target audience has of them and their actions, the specified theory makes it quite obvious that developing a sustainable approach to managing a company is impossible without a thorough analysis of the existing rumors (Zeidan & Fauser, 2015).
Indeed, the contemporary IT communication tools allow for a fast and comparatively easy acquisition of the necessary data, its classification and the further adoption for the needs of a company Therefore, losing an opportunity to learn about the public opinion and using it to the advantage of an organization, creating a positive image thereof in the society would not be a sound attitude:
Organizations sometimes take the attitude of “Don’t bring me bad news!” They might refuse to read or watch negative news coverage in specific publications or close their eyes to consumers or other publics. In refusing to know what some people think of them, they cannot possibly know how to respond. Organizations should seek bad news as much as they keep positive news clippings and read them carefully. (Fearn-Banks, 2009, p. 52).
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The approach of the Qatari government toward the issue in question can be viewed through the goggles of the theory in question. It would be wrong to claim that the state authorities have not spotted the conflict; however, they clearly cannot see the gravity of the situation, as they do not realize that their denial of any deaths occurring in the process of construction whatsoever only makes the conflict worse. In other words, the state government bodies are clearly in denial of the threat that they are currently facing.
Thus, the Qatari authorities need to provide a decent visibility of the problem so that it should not be lit in the media in an incorrect manner or from a biased point of view. According to the existing theory of conflict, it is essential to make sure that the visibility of the problem should be attained.
To be more specific, the representatives of the Qatar authorities must make sure that the key facts about the issue, and the essential factors that contributed to the development of the problem should be clearly visible to all the parties concerned. The significance of visibility is rather obvious; once the phenomenon in question is observed, the creation of rumors and the development of any further misconceptions become no longer possible:
Leaders must be actively engaged during a crisis. They should be visible and accessible to media. They should be responsive to the needs of victims. They should be actively engaged in the response. This communication helps to increase the impression that the crisis is being actively managed and reduces the impression that the company has something to hide. (Fearn-Banks, 2009, p. 65)
Seeing that the Qatar authorities have done none of the above-mentioned and, in fact, used the exact opposite strategy to sweep the information about the victims of the unfair employee contracts under the rug, very few members of the global economy trust them.
Therefore, it is imperative that the state leaders should consider the idea of shedding some light on the problem. Specifically, it is highly desirable that the representatives of the Qatar government should make a public statement concerning the accidents occurring in the designated field and published the corresponding reports.
It could be argued that the route which the Qatari authorities have taken with the problem under analysis could be analyzed from the perspective of the excellence theory.
According to the existing definition, the specified theory presupposes that the relationships with the target customers should be based on the strategy of avoiding any possible conflicts (Fearn-Banks, 2009). The theory, therefore, allows embracing not only the instances in which an organization honestly strives to maintain perfect performance rates and satisfy all stakeholders involved but also the situations that display the lack of balance.
Unable to create the environment, in which conflicts cannot possibly exist, the company struggles to maintain the semblance of order (Fearn-Banks, 2009). Specifically, it is currently trying to create an illusion of perfect functioning so that the target audience could not get disappointed with the outcomes of the construction project and that the state authorities could not lose an opportunity to attract a large audience.
Although the conflict that the authorities of Qatar got involved in after accepting the responsibility of holding the World Cup 2020 and subsequently being accused of the breach of migrant workers’ rights seems to have spun out of control, it still can be resolved once the state authorities assume responsibilities for the wrong choices that they made.
The dilemma that the Qatari government is facing at present is rather challenging as it requires that the state government should be very wise in the redesign of their crisis communication pattern.
The wrong choices that they made in the course of their previous communications have made their situation even more complicated as the Qatari authorities will have to take back some of the statements made regarding the safety issue. More importantly, the people in charge should accept the blame for mistreating migrant workers and reconsider the strategy used for managing the relationships between the workers and the employers.
In other words, the Qatar government should be honest with those involved about the role that it plays in the conflict. As soon as the guilty party comes clean the breeding ground for rumors will cease to exist, and no further escalation of the conflict becomes possible. The avoidance strategy that the state officials have chosen as the extension of the image restoration concept has obviously backfired, and the state representatives need another approach that will help them redeem themselves.
Fearn-Banks, K. (2009). Crisis communications: A casebook approach (Routledge Communication Series) (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Herwees, T. (2015, May 20). Behold the staggering human cost of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup Games. The Daily Good. Web.
Qatar. (2015). Web.
Reevy, M. (2014, May 14). 4 reasons why Qatar really was a mistake for FIFA and the World Cup. Sports Cheat Sheet. Web.
Tabash, M. I., & Dhankar, R. S. (2014). Islamic banking and economic growth: An empirical evidence from Qatar. Journal of Applied Economics and Business, 2(1), 51–67.
Zeidan, O. S., & Fauser, S. G. (2015). Corporate governance and corporate social responsibility – the case of FIFA. Problems and Perspectives in Management, 13(2), pp. 183–192.