On Monday, a video and photos surfaced on the internet of Lebanese Alpine Skier Jackie Chamoun posing topless in the Faraya ski resort went viral.
Distressed that footage taken three years ago which was never meant to be made public is detracting from her forthcoming competition in the 2014 Winter Olympics, Chamoun apologized and hoped to bring an end to the issue.
But Caretaker Youth and Sports Minster Faisal Karami was quick to get involved, calling for action over the content. Karami (pictured below) has demanded the Lebanese Olympic Committee investigate the incident, reportedly in order to protect Lebanon’s reputation.
Yet Karami’s decision to jump on the bandwagon by demanding an investigation has inevitably shifted the focus from his own track record. Since being appointed in 2011, the minister has overseen a chaotic period for both Lebanon and particularly sports.
Here are three actual scandals that Karami should deal with before he criticizes Chamoun’s photographs.
1. The country’s basketball crisis
Lebanon’s basketball leagues are in complete disarray, so much so that last year the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) suspended the Lebanese Basketball Federation from international competition. As such, the domestic season ended without a winner while the country’s stars faced the embarrassment of flying all the way to the Philippines to play in the FIBA Asian Championships, only to turn around having not thrown a single basket. The primary causes for the chaos were political infighting and sectarianism, something Karami admitted but has done little to tackle.
(For the full story, see Executive’s coverage here.)
2. Ongoing corruption in sport
Basketball isn’t the only sport that has seen its fair share of chaos since Karami took charge. Lebanon ranks in 127th place in the Global Corruption Index but perhaps should be lower for football.
In 2012, Lebanon had perhaps its best ever chance of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup. The country had made it through the first group stages for the first time and was due to play Qatar at home. Mid-way through the second half, defender Ramez Dayoub inexplicably passed the ball to Qatar’s striker to score.
It later turned out he was one of dozens of Lebanese footballers receiving money for deliberately throwing games (he was eventually fined just $15,000 and banned for life). But the initial revelations came not from work from Karami and his ministry, but an investigation from the Asian Football Confederation.
And it is not just the players whose reputations have been tarnished. In January this year three Lebanese officials were banned for at least a decade each for trying to fix a match. In fact, referee Ali Sabbagh’s bribe was not in fact monetary, but in sexual favors from a woman tied to a gambling syndicate.
Experts believe that corruption remains rife in Lebanese football.
3. Crippling youth unemployment
As Minister for Youth, Karami appears to have done little to counter the joblessness for young people. Lebanon’s youth unemployment was at 24 percent in 2013, representing 66 percent of all unemployed people in Lebanon in 2012.
Karami could re-direct his efforts away from reproaching nudity and towards promoting policies that make the market more favorable for young job-seekers. A 2013 report by the World Bank has called for coordinating investment, labour, skill development and social insurance policies in Lebanon to create a more opportune environment for employment.
Lebanon needs to create 23,000 new jobs per year over the next decade to absorb the growing amount of job seekers. Many of the jobs it is currently creating are in low productivity sectors that employ unskilled workers. Moreover, many skilled Lebanese jobseekers have left the country to find social security and better wages. According to a report from the American University of Beirut, a quarter of Lebanese youth want to emigrate, while another fifth are thinking about it.
The public sector could play a hand in improving the job market, providing more incentives for youth to stay in Lebanon. If Karami is to be taken seriously as caretaker minister of youth, there are a few issues that should rank higher on his agenda than a skier in Sochi.