The aim of this article is not to instill guilt in those who choose to watch the World Cup. Fans and players are the prisoners in this mess and I can’t (and won’t) blame you for wanting to follow your national team. This article is just a representation of my personal view of the World Cup in Qatar.
I’m not going to give you the big history lesson in this article. For that, I recommend you watch The Qatar World Cup series by Tifo Football on Youtube. You can continue reading without this knowledge – don’t worry. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
So about a month ago I decided that I will not be watching the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It wasn’t a difficult decision for me, but I still find it frustrating and sad that I can’t follow Denmark or South Korea on screen when both are in this year’s tournament. I had thought long and hard about watching the World Cup, but when I started looking into the topic about a year ago, I quickly realized that this World Cup is no ordinary tournament – this tournament actually has very few to do with football in general.
Three days ago, in the afternoon, I angrily closed my laptop. I had just seen Infantino’s now infamous press conference. Normally the media is allowed to ask questions at a press conference, but that wasn’t the case this time. The FIFA President delivered an hour-long monologue and reconfirmed that FIFA is an absolute bane. In the monologue, Infantino (of course) defended the decision to host the World Cup in Qatar and even lashed out at critics, accusing them of being both racist and hypocritical. And Mr. Infantino – before I go on; Being gay is not a feeling, nor is having a disability or being a migrant worker. Needless to say, your pathetic attempt to be inclusive seems very hollow after this very World Cup, where homosexuality is indeed illegal and where FIFA has not intervened when it comes to improving working conditions for the almost 1st World Cup Million migrant workers hired to build an entire World Cup from the ground up.
And honestly, I don’t blame him for defending the decision. His organization has made many promises to some of the richest and most powerful people in the world, and one could only imagine what would become of Infantino if he suddenly questioned the integrity and legitimacy of the World Cup, which was “awarded” to Qatar in 2010. And for those of you who are wondering – Yes indeedQatar did bribing several members of the FIFA Executive Committee to get the World Cup – this was confirmed by Sepp Blatter himself in an interview with Danish journalist Jan Jensen.
It may seem obvious why I choose not to watch the tournament. I have the feeling that football has moved away from its core values. Or actually, FIFA has long since moved them away from their core values – this is just the culmination of that process, and it’s also the first time I can ask myself why I choose football. I have long believed that football is not important. And to a certain extent that’s true. If you limit it to just sport, football doesn’t matter very much. But when you think about it, football could be one of the most important things in the world. It’s a global business and it’s unique in its nature because it relies on fandom – I often compare it to the music industry because it follows similar patterns.
FIFA bases their business on what we call The Beautiful Game and you know what they say – with great power comes great responsibility. football is So great because it can unite people like nothing else. It can be played by anyone and it is played by everyone. Football for all has always been a core value of FIFA. So let me ask this: if football is for everyone, why the hell is the tournament organized in a country where not everyone is welcome? And it’s always the same excuse: “Let’s separate sport and politics”. Dear Mr. Infantino, if you don’t realize that sport and politics are inseparable, then you really aren’t fit to lead the largest and most influential football association in the world. You wish Ukraine and Russia had a truce while we play? Be honest – what do you expect? You are only interested in politics if you can decide what is politics and what is not.
I’m a football fan. But soccer isn’t just soccer anymore. And as a consumer, it is my responsibility to say no when that product is no longer consistent with the values on which it was originally based. The only difficulty I faced in deciding not to watch the World Cup was that I have a desire to watch football for entertainment purposes and because I have told myself that it is the best way, my to see the country play to support it. There are hundreds of other ways I can support them and in the end it was an easy decision for me to make.
And does it help? Yes – in numbers. The number of viewers will be a very important (if not the most important) metric when it comes to judging the success of this year’s World Cup. And I can’t agree with Infantino – this can’t be the best World Cup ever because it’s probably the worst World Cup ever. I hope that this World Cup will not draw as much attention from the spectators as previous World Cups. It was always a pain not to watch the World Cup because I love football, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices to make a difference – especially when you’re playing FIFA. So for the first time I won’t watch football at all because I love football.
Yesterday it was confirmed that no team will be wearing the ‘One Love Bracelet’ as FIFA will issue yellow cards to those who wear it. It was also confirmed that Belgium were forced to change their 3rd shirt because of the words ‘Love’ written on the collar. One can of course debate whether a yellow card is worth saying (which it certainly is), but ultimately it just goes to show that FIFA has reached its limits. The sanctioning of the players is serious as FIFA has now taken the matter to the pitch.
In my opinion, the best thing you can do is educate yourself. Nothing will ever change if we only complain about whining. And yes – you may wonder if there is ethnic consistency in my decision, because what about Russia? I just wasn’t that conscious at the time, so my ethical consistency begins now.
And to everyone who chooses to watch. I don’t blame you for watching the games. But I hope I at least helped you to think about what you support and why you support it.
Also: why the hell is the World Cup in Qatar when the Danish team actually has a good chance of achieving something. Life really suffers.