It’s too late for Arsenal fans to change Qatar’s approach to human rights by Dan Smith
In the next month there will be lots of propaganda coming out of Qatar. Plenty of claims and counter claim.
So, I thought before the World Cup kicks off this weekend, I should give you my point of view.
We have already seen how members of the Danish media were treated, challenged by security then apologised to once they realised the world had caught them out.
That will be symbolic of what the next few weeks will look like. The public told one thing but in private something different happening.
The likes of David Beckham has been criticised for endorsing Qatar as a host nation, while Robbie Williams and the Black Eye Peas will be performing at the opening/closing ceremony.
It’s unlikely that any celebrity will be using their platform to challenge the countries human rights record. That’s essentially the opposite of what they are being paid to do, and for their safety nor should they.
Easy for us far away to say we would, but how many people would generally want to debate how women and same sex couples are treated in Qatar, then step outside?
What hurts about Beckham’s role as an ambassador, is it confirms what we secretly know deep down that money talks.
Beckham’s not just an English sporting icon, he’s one of the poster boys of the whole of the UK.
He was part of the FA’s committee in 2010 dumbfounded when Sepp Blatter announced that Qatar had been chosen ahead of other bids.
On that day he was sat next to the future king and the Prime Minister.
Beckham didn’t need to be in business with Qatar to confirm the universe is corrupt.
It’s simply something we don’t want to admit to ourselves but in this instance, we can’t ignore it, we can’t cover our eyes and ears and pretend it’s not happening.
That’s what’s so absurd about this tournament.
All humans’ bad habits are on full display. The negative side of our personalities on full view.
Every nation has its own culture, and any visitor should respect those values.
For example, there’s nothing wrong with, due to religious beliefs, alcohol being unlawful.
A country shouldn’t change their principles based on football. What they should have done is not lie and pretend they could offer the West, the match day experience they are used too.
It was up to FIFA to point that out.
Charged with representing all associations, FIFA and Qatar for over a decade argued consuming alcohol wasn’t an issue. They shamefully waited 48 hours before Qatar vs Ecuador to change the rules regarding stadiums selling alcohol (once tickets and travel has been purchased).
Guess the part of the venue where they will turn the other cheek?
In the corporate section!
That tells you everything.
If both parties can change their promises on something as trivial as what you can drink, then what else will alter?
The likes of Gary Neville has been called out for his double standards, preaching why the hosts are unsuitable but then taking a pay check from the same nation.
Yet look deeper and we all hypocrites.
Simon Jordan and Have I Got News For You have all mocked the pundit for ‘selling out’.
Yet they fail to question the morality of their employers, with Talk Sport and the BBC equally getting on the same flight.
Am I wrong for disagreeing with how Qatar treat females and sexual orientation, while still watching the sport they are presenting?
That’s why it’s called sports washing.
Saudi Arabia have been doing the same with boxing and wrestling, a country with just as much questionable human rights record.
Pay millions for a product so entertaining you know will attract eyes, allowing them to present a version of the Middle East they want you to see.
If you want to look deep enough, we all do what Gary Neville is doing.
The Premier League sells TV rights to the region, essentially countries have bought clubs in the top flights, Real Madrid and Barcelona have fixtures outside of Europe.
The UK has trade deals with Saudi Arabia.
Those business relationships are not a reflection of an approval of how that nation is being run.
Jurgen Klopp said it best the other week.
While I don’t agree with everything the Liverpool manager says, especially when he’s being passive aggressive, he’s right to question those in power.
The German’s stance that a lot more high profile organisations with a lot more say could have protested about this tournament a lot sooner is hard to argue.
As soon as they won the rights to host the World Cup, Qatar’s human rights record was common knowledge.
Stories of how migrants have been treated have been told for years.
Campaigners and charities have for just as long voiced concerns over equality being an issue for fans who travel.
The FA, Harry Kane, ITV, the Royal Family, etc all could have refused England’s participation.
Big name teams or players boycotting really would have spread awareness.
After 10 years those with authority felt unwilling or unable to make that stance.
So, it’s unfair to put that on others to have that moral compass when the damage has been done.
So, whatever you see or hear in the next month, just remember it’s not the players, pundits or fan’s fault!
Someone in power could have set an example, but it was easier to turn the other cheek.