A Damage In The Mind
This year, World Cup Fever appears to be more of a sickness than ever.
It started out as a far-flung story, something that could be avoided, that would never reach where you are, but for the past twenty-four months, it has steadily infected many of those who swore it never would, and many, many more.
From admonishments and disdain to acceptance and praise — the fear of missing out strong enough to make a passenger out of many staunch protesters.
News outlets, pundits, competitors, and even world leaders seem to have steadily come round to the idea of the 2022 World Cup being hosted in Qatar.
So first things first, this isn’t a World Cup. Because how can a country claim to be representing the world when it violently belittles those who dwell here?
There are arguments to be made about many host nations of recent times though aren’t there? The fact that at least some evidence has been found supporting the fact that the last four tournaments have all been bought by the host nation probably doesn’t bode well for anyone who’s ever hosted it, but that’s a minor thing when looking deeper.
England and USA are two bastions of the progressive, forward-thinking Western world, that have managed to achieve such status off the backs of others — historically, not two nations that we should be appreciating and potentially rewarding with the attention and revenue of a global event. Other so-called ‘safe’ countries also have their issues; Italy is comfortably settling back into its fascistic bed, France are flirting with going full-tilt insane, and Hungary skipped flirting and fingered it in a rubbish tip that’s caught fire.
The point could be made that everywhere has its baggage and so it doesn’t matter so much where the World Cup is hosted. But when civil and human rights are being abused on such a broad scale, it is much easier to see what’s going wrong. If you make a cake and only realise at the end that you forgot to add the eggs, you might have a shit cake, but if you realise that you forgot the eggs, the flour, the butter, the milk, and the oven, then you just have a bowl full of baking powder, sexism, and homophobia.
This is something that I’ve never really understood as an opinion. I understand what’s being quoted at me, I understand the reasons that I’m hearing, but where it falls apart is what business is it of anyone else’s? Why does religion, and now, politics see it fit to concern themselves with things like this?
I mean, that’s the bottom line. The hosts of this global celebration of the beautiful game will throw a hissy fit if I kiss my boyfriend at one of their games. And by hissy fit, I mean they will kill me with stones. It is such an insane step backwards, though not surprising considering the last edition of the tournament was hosted by Russia, those paragons of peace and love.
It was reported by Human Rights Watch that forces in Qatar have been randomly arresting LGBT individuals, detaining them, and physically assaulting them before forcing them to sign pledges that had them swear to ‘cease immoral activity’.
This was reported in October as having happened recently as September.
What about basic human rights for all?
Oh no, that’s right, FIFA banned that statement being emblazoned across Denmark’s training jersey for being too political.
After the undoubted triumph that was the Women’s European Championships hosted earlier this year in England, it is such a kick in the teeth to that side of the game particularly (but the whole game really) to see a World Cup played on this archaic stage.
Women are treated as second-class citizens in Qatar, there won’t be a Women’s World Cup there, so how dare you celebrate the triumph of the Lionesses or any team involved in that tournament and then turn around to feed this machine for pigs.
In the midst of all the PR glad-handing, one particular voice stood out to me among all others, and that was the voice of England international and Euro ’22 winner Lotte Wubben-Moy. As she and many others in the game spoke of supporting their boys, she went on to add that she had made the decision simply not to watch this edition of the tournament. Respectfully, commandingly done.
Because how could she? And then, how could anyone?
A country that believes some people are superior to others based on how they were born.
Another thing Wubben-Moy brought up was the treatment of migrant workers. In February 2021, the Guardian claimed that 6,500 migrant workers had died between the commencement of the stadiums being built and that February. The Qatari government disputed this claim and fired back with a body count of 37 between 2014 and 2020.
The International Labour Organisation collected figures from emergency services and found that while the death toll is 50, those treated for mild to moderate injuries comes in at just over 38,000. And that’s for 2020 alone.
We probably won’t know how many have died to deliver this series of ball games. But the treatment of those given the job to put it on a silver platter before leaving (if they’re lucky) is mortifying. And it’s not just terrible pay and quarters that they have to worry about, no; in the case of Malcolm Bidali, a blog that he maintained regarding the conditions saw him incarcerated, threatened with torture, incarcerated somewhere else in what was essentially solitary confinement, and then fined nearly five grand upon his release months later. And he’s not the only one like that.
Any country that doesn’t want its practices getting out there, no matter what they might be, no matter what little part you might be trying to know more about, isn’t exactly hiding the formula for world peace.
In the run-up to this World Cup, from the 2nd December 2010 — twelve years since the hosting was announced—commentators have speculated, admonished, and accepted in seemingly equal measure. It was after the postponed Men’s Euros that things seemed to step into a higher gear though. It was now officially the road to Qatar. I know for me, that was the moment when I realised ‘oh shit, this is actually gonna happen.’ Thirty-two teams were gonna go over there and compete for the grand prize in the largest display of sports-washing since someone dropped Radox in the pool at the 2004 Olympics.
It was good to see that being brought up during that time as well, it made me hopeful that something might be done about it, that a neutral venue might have been found, but as time frittered on, many of those protests stopped, to be replaced by that aforementioned fever. Any atrocities were chalked up to bumps on the road that couldn’t stand in the way of football, or a black mark on an otherwise special occasion, or worst, an unwelcome distraction.
But, as Thomas Hitzlsperger said, ‘you can’t be paid by Qatar or FIFA and criticise them.’
This is a festival built on blood and the broken backs of those deemed to be lesser humans by those in charge. This isn’t football. Football is life, but it’s also a game, never to get in the way of real lives. Real lives that can be and have been really lost, ended, stopped in their tracks so someone can tell you to visit their country to see how nice it is. They have your football, so what are you gonna do? Not watch it?
Yeah, that might be somewhere to start.
This article was going to be about me taking something from Qatar, since they took the World Cup from me. I was going to try and break one of the world records they had achieved in yet another delay of ‘washing’. But the only one that seemed achievable for me as an individual was ‘the youngest person to publish a book series (female)’. That was as close as I was gonna get, and I’m not a woman, nor am I younger than ten years and 164 days. Plus, I feel like the clock was against me in building the largest indoor rollercoaster.
Once I realised I couldn’t take their records (yet), I just went back to being mad. Mad that there wasn’t more outrage, that I couldn’t do more apart from abstain from viewing and host gay orgies during match-time instead. I felt like I wanted to shout in the faces of everyone associated with the ill-thinking in that country, in my country, in any country. I wanted to know why so many turned their back on the chastising of this regime that was about to handle something they loved and use it as a tool to manipulate.
Broad civil rights are being affected here, something that should be archaically intrinsic with existence. The fact that someone had to confirm to LGBT+ couples that they would not be arrested for kissing or holding hands in public is laughable and massively depressing.
I sincerely hope that some kind of progress can be achieved during all this. I hope what is now a farce can transform into some kind of beacon for change and goodness, because those venomous thoughts and virulent beliefs that are currently held are sick. And anyone who disagrees might just be suffering from a damage in the mind.
If anyone has a list of things to do instead of watching the World Cup, any events that might be on, do let me know. I start to chafe after the fourth or fifth anal ramming.
Keep it streets ahead,