I know there are many world cups, indeed as I am writing this I am waiting for the Rugby League World Cup finals to come on the television. The women’s is first followed by the men’s and I will be more than happy to watch them. Although I prefer union to league, the men’s semi-final between Samoa and England was an amazingly exciting game.
I won’t, however, be watching the FIFA World Cup, held this time in that great footballing nation of Qatar.
I might like to think of it as some sort of boycott against the human rights abuses in the country. I disapprove of the nation’s stance over gender and homsexuality, though I have never been there and so cannot judge for myself. I gather that drinking alcohol has now been banned within the stadia, yet am at a loss to understand how anyone can drink alcohol in a country where it is forbidden. Whether you decide to go or not to Qatar, everyone knows their position on such things in advance.
I look at the other countries involved and their equally blemished records on human rights, indeed England’s opener is against Iran, a country where the morality police are clamping down on protesters and where the first death sentence has been issued for the crime of ‘enmity against God’. I am told that in as many as ten countries competing in the tournament, it is also illegal to be gay.
Who are we to preach anyway? The English may like to think of ourselves as playing a leadership role in the liberal free world, yet as a country we have our dabs on many of the ails of the world.
I have the same problem with Brexit. Although I have managed to stay away from Wetherspoons since 2016 and will never buy a JCB, if I was to avoid all businesses led by leave voters I would soon starve or freeze. The world is such a complex and interlinked entity that taking such binary stances is almost impossible.
I might like to think of it as some sort of protest against corruption in FIFA yet money and politics have been embroiled in sport for as long as I can remember. Rich people own football clubs, not always, if ever, for altruism. Politicians will always want to be associated with their national team, when it is winning. The Premiership is awash with foreign money, again much of it from countries which we consider unsavoury. Even the lower leagues are not immune. If I was to avoid all competitions where money and politics had not tried to influence the outcome then there would be nothing to watch.
I might like to think that by not watching the World Cup that I am making a noble act, supporting the world’s underdogs and sticking it to the man. The truth is, however, I am simply bored by the whole thing. As far as I am concerned the season is over until the end of December.