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CSotD: My World Cup Runneth Under

Colombian cartoonist Raul Fernando Zuleta (Cartoon Movement) leads off today’s discussion of the 2022 World Cup: Qatar dangles money before FIFA and the TV networks, who in turn dangle money before the soccer clubs and TV viewers give the results to viewers, who don’t get so much as a taste of all that lovely baksheesh and hush money.

FIFA’s system has long been open to scandal. It seemed appropriate to award the tournament to South Africa in 2010, since that country had recently stepped out of its apartheid years and seemed on an upward trend. Granted, that trend appears to have gone a bit awry, but that wasn’t apparent at the time.

But handing it over to Brazil in 2014 stretched credulity, given the degree of sportswashing that country indulged in to host not only the Cup but also the Olympics. Neighborhoods were torn down, elegant futbol stadiums were built that would never be used again, and the nation had to scramble at the last minute to get the raw sewage out of the water for the Olympic boating events.

Neither Brazil’s economy, nor its poor people, nor its environment are any better, eight years hence.

And, of course, the 2018 Cup went to Vladimir Putin, who used it as a showcase for his model nation.

Now it’s Qatar’s turn to challenge the conscience of the world.

Futbol is the world’s most popular sport, with roughly 10 times the number of fans as American football, but those avid fans began to quail a bit over the excesses in Brazil and the emerging evidence of bribery and scandal in FIFA.

Still, they put their doubts and guilt aside to watch the best examples of the sport they loved.

 

However, the Qatar tourney appears to have pushed a significant number of fans over the edge, as this story from a German magazine explains. When a popular pub in Cologne put up this banner and announced that their televisions would not be tuned in to the Cup, it touched off not only support for them but a small boycott movement elsewhere in a country that is generally football-crazy.

Nor, the owner said, was it simply an issue of size, lack of tradition or an unplayable climate. “Qatar tops it all off: the oppression of women, discrimination against homosexuals and the appalling working conditions.”

German pubs that boycott the tournament will lose a lot of beer sales, which is ironic, given that, for those not watching the situation so closely, beer appears to be a central issue, as seen in this

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Bruce MacKinnon)

 

(Scott Stantis)

MacKinnon goes strictly for the gag, while Stantis attempts to frame it as a morality play, with Qatar making a move to reduce hooliganism.

But the issue of beer, which is strongly tied to Budweiser’s $pon$or$hip of the World Cup, goes back farther than this past week, when Qatar reneged on its semi-promise to relax its religious restrictions on alcohol.

FIFA had bullied Brazil into relaxing a law against serving beer in stadia eight years earlier, with an official stating the federation’s position in no uncertain terms:

Alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we’re going to have them. Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that’s something we won’t negotiate. The fact that we have the right to sell beer has to be a part of the law.

Qatar knew that when they took the tournament. They also knew that a few days before the first match would be too late for FIFA to decide whether or not it wanted to negotiate the issue.

 

Matt also went for a joke on the matter, but he put some teeth in the gag. The decision to only allow beer sales in limited venues outside the stadia is a symbol of a much greater problem with the Cup.

 

Juxtaposition of the Day #2

(Elmer — Cartoon Movement)

 

(Morten Morland)

 

(Guy Venables)

Qatar also backed out of an apparent agreement to allow players to wear rainbow armbands expressing their solidarity with LGBTQ+ people, there and around the world.

I say “apparent agreement” because several countries had made clear their intentions and Qatari officials had not objected, but, then again, neither had they agreed, and, in this case, silence did not imply consent but, rather, another last minute shift in the sirocco.

Argentinian cartoonist Elmer shows the referee’s decision, which was to charge anyone wearing a rainbow armband with a yellow card, which, in football, means a second minor infraction would require expulsion, with their team having to play a man short for the rest of the game and without that player in the next round.

Morland decries England’s knuckling under to the demand, while Venables makes a joke out of the reversal of courageous intent.

But, aside from whether the matter was worth competitive suicide, it’s another case of FIFA bowing to the last minute demands of the Qatari officials, because the imposition of a penalty on the field was entirely FIFA’s decision.

 

Meanwhile, a number of media companies are pushing back against Qatar’s bigotry, including BBC reporter Alex Scott, who sported a One Love armband while covering England’s match against Iran.

 

Which match, by the way, included the Iranian team standing silent rather than singing along as their national anthem was played. Their captain later explained they stood in solidarity with the hijab protesters and the victims of the government’s crackdowns.

However, outside the stadium, local officials in Dohar were behaving more like the Morality Police in Tehran, enforcing what they at least felt was a law against rainbows, though CBS sports reporter Grant Wahl was eventually able to talk his way past guards who held him for a forbidden shirt, as well as a fellow journalist who stopped to see what the trouble was about.

Similarly, as this extensive Vanity Fair breakdown of the troubles at the Cup explains, police failed to follow through with their threats to smash the camera of a Danish TV crew that had the temerity to report from outside the stadium.

Are the local cops following orders, or acting on their own? Does it matter?

 

 

Pat Bagley puts it in perspective, to which I would add that the question is also directed at you.

CS Lewis observed that “Integrity involves doing the right thing, even when no one is watching”

UBU.

 

Community Comments

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#1 Jason Baumbach
November/23/2022
@ 8:17 am

Thank you, as always, Mike, for bringing me news from around the world (with links to your sources) that I probably would not have taken the time to uncover on my own.

I finally have something positive to say about the Orange Calf — if it was not for him, I might never have discovered CSotD.

Speaking of the T-word, this post, which makes no mention of the wannabe dictator, is a reminder that your posts will continue to add value.

Thank you.

#2 Becky Ferguson
November/28/2022
@ 9:50 am

It’s after-Thanksgiving-catch-up-on-my-reading day. Thanks for this and all the links. I didn’t know about most of it, and the cartoons are telling.

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