Would You Boycott The World Cup? by Dan
Last night Norway took a stance that I hope the rest of Football follows. With one of the world’s best strikers (and Martin Odegaard!), they now have a profile where them wearing a T shirt expressing their ‘concerns’ over Qatar’s human rights record will get the attention of FIFA.
With qualification for the 2022 World Cup starting this week, many big names of various countries are being asked the same questions.
“I have the impression that a lot of (players) are interested in this, care about it and want to do something to try and contribute in a good way,” Odegaard said in Football.London.
Where Football could once separate sport from politics, they have got too involved and can’t now hide just because a World Cup makes lots of money.
At a time when Football in Europe insist on promoting equality and diversity, what do they intend to do to confront Qatar’s poor human rights record?
Several nations are even discussing at parliament level if their football teams should be boycotting the next World Cup due to certain findings by various studies. One such report shows that in the decade since they were announced as hosts, 6,500 migrants died due to unsafe working environments. Bear in mind that’s only based on migrants from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
It’s taken to last August for laws to change. Workers are no longer required to hand over their passports, there has been a 25 percent rise in pay to 275 a month and an employee no longer requires permission from their employer to change jobs.
The fact that in 2020 that was seen as progress is scary.
Holland’s stance are that their government and King will not travel to the competition although the KNVB have dismissed talk of any boycott (if they qualify) believing they can spread more awareness by participating. Other countries though are not ruling out refusing to participate.
In Germany, politicians have formed a group called the Pro Fans Alliance campaigning for the topic to at least be debated.
A petition is underway in Denmark where 50,000 signatures will force a discussion to be had in parliament.
To their credit Norway haven’t ruled out a boycott (if they qualify) and in protest wore shirts before the Gibraltar match. That’s how you invoke change.
In a couple of years, Haaland could be one of the poster boys of the tournament. Him refusing to participate would cost the World Cup sponsorship, which would mean FIFA loses money. Unfortunately, that’s the only way you make serious companies change when they lose money.
The image of Haaland wearing a shirt with the message, ‘Respect on and off the pitch’ will be shown around the world and will promote discussion.
Holland’s captain got angry this week when a journalist suggested there was some contradiction.
Here was a player who takes the knee every week to promote the fight for everyone to be treated equal yet will help a country make a lot of money off a competition which his own country are admitting having concerns over abuse of employment laws and other morals.
The journalist was right to point out the contradiction.
We live in an era where the world is rightfully encouraged to call out anytime they see or hear a person being mistreated.
In the last year alone we have seen protests towards police behaviour, how women are treated, lockdown measures, is there racism in the British Monarchy, can we call Potato Head a Mr, etc.
Go on YouTube and will find various opinions about a range of topics. It’s healthy to encourage conversation.
Yet we can’t on one hand say it’s okay to argue about everything in the world but then watch a World Cup and brush under the carpet issues of a lack of equality towards poverty, domestic issues, mistreatment of minorities, etc.
Football can’t have it both ways. The Sport either takes part in politics or doesn’t. Now that it has it can’t back down.
Arsenal for example supported taking the knee but then distanced themselves from comments of Ozil expressing concerns over how Muslims were being treated in China. Those actions suggest that Arsenal are saying one issue is bigger than the other. This is where it becomes a sticky issue.
How can governing bodies protest against Qatar when they didn’t object to South Africa, Russia and Brazil hosting the same tournament?
How does Football decide what they politically object too?
Ironically, the most vocal have their own policies that their peers might be against. Germany is experiencing a rise in Islamophobic hate crime, Norway has been accused of discrimination towards immigrants, while Denmark are the first in Europe to deport refugees back to a war zone.
Who decides who’s right and wrong?
This is why many suggest that sport should not get involved in politics, because when you’re dealing with a worldwide fan base how do you decide which cultures you agree with or not.
The FA, the Premier League, Sky Sports, BT, etc, for example want to be seen to fighting against racism, growing the women’s game and being against all forms of discrimination.
If those groups did have zero tolerance, they would encourage England not to travel to Qatar.
Football is not the only Sport that the Middle East is willing to pay huge sums of money to have access to in a bid to showcase a better image.
Saudi Arabia for example might pay millions to host the Joshua v Fury fight as a device to show the reforms they are undertaking.
I would love the Three Lions to have the gumption to do what Norway did. Senior players in the England squad have agreed on the importance of carrying on taking the knee. Will they carry on that ritual at the World Cup?
Will FIFA ask players to stand behind a sign, ticking their box of this being the equal game?
While it’s noble for players to promote diversity and equality, is it not wrong to ignore other issues just because your football federation happens to make money?
I have long stressed that wouldn’t it be great if a Messi and Ronaldo refused to go to Qatar?Imagine the buzz that would create.
For everything they have done in the game it would be a perfect way to leave their legacies.
Every generation there is a sports person brave enough to take a stand.
I say brave because this will be the first Arab/Muslim country to host the World Cup which would be symbolic for the region. Western Countries not showing up would turn a football event into a political row.
Will someone make a stand before the next World Cup? Unfortunately, the answer is probably no.
For the people who died building those stadiums, for those not treated equally, and for those not allowed to choose how to live their lives…. Let’s not insult them.
If you’re a federation/player/company, etc who profits out of the next World Cup, at least have the decency to not months later wear rainbow laces while taking the knee, while Sky Sports asks viewers to report any discrimination.
If Norway go to the World Cup their words are empty but last night is a start.
FIFA like to portray the World Cup as a magical event run flawlessly.
So qualification beginning with a protest will upset sponsors and the image the QFA are trying to enforce.
That’s a start ….
Be kind in the comments