Scotland, like the rest of the UK, and – I assume – Europe, is in the grip of a cold snap. We had a moderate fall of snow in Porty a week ago today, and although that (and the snow that fell two days later) has now melted, temperatures have mostly remained below zero. I can’t remember such a sustained spell of freezing weather here. No doubt this is due to global warming, which seems ironic.
It saddens me greatly to read of glaciers melting and shrinking. If it’s any consolation, I found some small glaciers had formed on the inside of my living room windows a few mornings ago, although I suspect they won’t go any way to offsetting the damage being done in the Alps and elsewhere.
A few months ago, I began leaving the butter out of the fridge, so that it would be more spreadable on my toast of a morning. Now I’m considering putting it back in the fridge, to soften it up a little.
While Britain freezes, meanwhile, we’re watching a World Cup played in (mostly) high temperatures in Qatar, a tournament dogged by controversy and allegations of corruption, which seems par for the course. It was, after all, organised by FIFA.
But this year there’s been a fair bit of bleating from various ‘progressive’ nations about Qatar’s various human rights violations, with respect to immigrant workers and treatment of the LGBTQIA+ (I may not be up to date with with acronym, and so will use ‘LGBT’ from here) community.
I fully expect (having not read up on it fully) that Qatar is indeed guilty of many crimes in these regards, and abhor any such human rights abuses. But I find the responses of the various FAs and the players themselves distinctly underwhelming.
If they (the FAs) were so upset about Qatar being chosen as the venue for this World Cup, they could have boycotted it. Not turned up. That would have sent a serious message to FIFA, and to Qatar. Would they have been financially sanctioned by FIFA? Probably (I don’t know). Would they have lost out massively, financially? I’m sure they would. Would some players have lost their only opportunity to play at the highest stage (if indeed it is the highest stage in football, these days)? Almost certainly.
Too high a price to pay? Maybe.
While Qatar are no doubt guilty of various crimes as alluded to above, I don’t remember anyone complaining about the World Cup being held in the USA in 1994. The USA, perhaps, can’t be placed in the same category as Qatar, but are likely responsible for variously bad behaviour both within and without the borders of their own nation. So, I imagine, are all countries, really. If the World Cup was ever held in England or the UK, the finger could be pointed at us for various misdemeanours. Especially if history is taken into account.
So if we’re going to hold a World Cup in an actual country on earth, and not on a neutral venue such as the moon, then let’s expect that the host country probably isn’t a shining light, morally-speaking. It seems a safe assumption. And if the nation in question really has ‘crossed the line’, then have the strength of your convictions and boycott the thing. Although the question remains for me – who gets to define where the ‘line’ is? If we – as humans – have taken it upon ourselves to decide what is right and what is wrong, then which of us gets the final say on what is and what isn’t?
At the start of the tournament, several captains of European nations announced their intention to wear armbands supporting the LGBT cause. Until, that is, they were threatened with the sanction of…being booked. Would this have hurt them (the captains) personally, and harmed their teams’ chances? Of course. But how much do they care about these causes they purport to support, if they aren’t prepared to make even the smallest sacrifice to make the point? It all looks like shallow posturing.
In 2003, Zimbabwe’s Henry Olonga and Andy Flower wore black armbands in a match in the Cricket World Cup, being held in South Africa. They publicly stated why – to “mourn the death of democracy” under the Robert Mugabe regime. Were they sanctioned? Olonga received death threats, never played for Zimbabwe again, despite being only 26 and in his prime, and was forced to live in exile.
Footballers, if you want to show support for a cause you believe in, please do so. If you will only do this if it’s convenient and doesn’t cost you anything, please don’t bother.
Stay warm, Britons. And Happy Christmas, if I don’t write before then (as seems likely…!)