There will always be drama and at least some level of controversy surrounding major sporting events. This World Cup arguably takes the forefront in modern sporting history with its popularity and widespread viewing audience. Many sporting events and individuals have made waves in sports, upsetting the status quo, and creating uncomfortable conversations.
When Jesse Owens won four Gold Medals in 1936, he ticked off the actual Nazis with his dominance in the Berlin Olympics and landed a huge blow to Aryan superiority. That was followed up by Joe Louis beating Max Schmeling in 1938. The Black Power salute in the 1968 Olympics. Kneeling during the National Anthem by Colin Kaepernick then other NFL players and then Megan Rapinoe and then many athletes and other opportunities for athletes to make statements. Those were just a few that came to mind and there are many more that made statements.
But this is different.
Will or even can the teams at the 2022 FIFA World Cup wearing armbands or altered crests or darkened jerseys make a difference? I doubt it but the teams have to make an attempt, even if it does ring hollow and symbolic at times.
Will Qatar (the corrupt, brutal, and exploitative country) benefit from the conversations? Will they even allow them to take place? At this point, I would not be shocked to see Qatari police seize rainbow armbands. Not sure what will or won’t happen but so far Qatar has gone back on almost every promise made in order to get awarded the cup. Well, promises and “cash donations” may have helped. They promised and reneged on the games being held in the summer like normal, with beer and alcohol being banned unless you are rich. Promises made to influencers and snitches are even in question and many of these come at the last minute. So much for that Budweiser sponsorship.
While they have gone back on promises they have already doubled down by trying to strong-arm reporters and even tried to intimidate the simultaneously unctuous and grating Grant Wahl for taking a picture of a wall.
But worse than that has been the exploitation, the slave labor-like conditions, and deaths so that really rich people can have the games in their backyard/sand pit. It is not going to grow the game in that region.
We have mostly overlooked the past indiscretions of FIFA (bribes and corruption) even when they awarded the tournament to Russia, a known upright country that never has organized governmental cheating and certainly never invades neighboring countries while brutalizing their people. That was sarcasm for those more humor challenged than myself.
At least after those scandals some of the FIFA officials have been or are being prosecuted but it is not apparent that enough has changed with that organization. Or if it ever will.
These issues are not new, I am not telling you anything you have not heard before. But the question is, how does it affect your motivation for these games?
With this World Cup, I personally feel conflicted. VERY conflicted. Despite all the faults with US Soccer at times, I want to root for the Yanks and watch great games and all the amazing athletic drama on the field in other matches but there will always be the underlying issues with Qatar (the corrupt exploitive regime). I will watch and write but I will mention the negatives of Qatar (the horrible, abusive regime) as often as I can. I will enjoy the games and not feel good about it.
We will cover the games here, do some previews and game threads starting soon and then follow up with some recaps as well. But for me, it will feel icky and slimy the entire time.
What are your thoughts? Will you watch? Has it dampened the excitement for the games despite the United States getting back after the fiasco of 2018? Or are you just excited and can put the issues aside during the games?
Can we root for Qatar (the evil oppressive regime) to lose every game by double digits? Will that help?