Monday 21 November 2022

Will the 3 lions roar?

I'm not gonna lie. I've found it very hard to get myself excited for this World Cup.

Anyone who follows football is surely very aware of how farcical the circumstances of this World Cup. I mean, where do we even start. 

Well, how about the ingrained corruption within FIFA that led to the awarding of the hosting duties to Qatar, a country with now footballing tradition. And that, in and of itself, should not necessarily preclude a country from being given the hosting honours. It would not be the first time that it has been awarded to a country who are looking to grow and develop the sport within their borders. But is that really the case for Qatar.

But do Qatar really want to develop the game? I don't think so. It is just a marketing exercise to promote themselves on the global stage. However, it has been a spectacular own goal because all it has done is put their questionable human rights record front and centre for all to see.

There's the mistreatment of migrant workers used to build the stadiums which the country obviously didn't have the infrastructure to host the 2nd biggest sporting contest in the world, trailing only the Olympics. But all of the development has come at a very steep cost of human lives. It is unacceptable that workers should be forced to work in such unsafe conditions just for the enjoyment of us fans. 

Then there are the unacceptable cultural issues. The World Cup is promoted as an event for anyone. But how can that possibly be in a country where same sex relationships are illegal and can be punished with death. How can that possibly be an event for anyone, when fans have to travel there in fear that they may be punished over who this have chosen to love. It's not acceptable.

And finally there is the ridiculous decision to host a summer event in a country where it is dangerous to competitors to play during the summer. It's almost as if FIFA didn't even consider the health implications of playing games in such heat. Their answer, after continually denying it would be a problem, to eventually move the competition to the winter. In other words, to move it to the middle of the football seas. 

Oh, there's one more thing, although this one doesn't bother me quite so much. As part of their campaign to win the World Cup, Qatar assured fans that they would still be able to enjoy a beer at the games, even though it may conflict with the local culture. Then, with less than a week to go before the start of the competition, FIFA announced that beer sale at games would be banned. Now, I'm not a drinker myself and alcohol clearly can cause problems at football matches when drinking gets out of control so maybe the policy is fine for me. 

However, Qatar promising one thing and then putting pressure on FIFA to change things at the very last moment is just another example of how unsuitable they are to host. That said, FIFA will at least feel the sting of this one due to their large sponsorship deal with Budweiser, who will surely be demanding a return of some of the £65 million they have paid to be the official beer supplier. 

Here in England, there is just 8 days between the Premier League going on hiatus and England clicking off their first game today. Either days to prepare for the biggest competitions of the player's lives. It's an absolute joke! Not only is there no way that the teams be properly prepared having had so little time together, but there are major fitness concerns too. The players won't be fresh and rested, which will only harm the quality of football on display. 

And that's from the player who have actually made it into the national squads. Never before has there been a World Cup where so many stars have been missing through injury. That is the direct result of the timing of the competition. Normally the season would have finished and the players would have had recovery time. Not this time.

Put simply, this World Cup just shouldn't be happening in these circumstance. Unfortunately, it is. 

And with that being the case, I will obviously be cheering England on. I don't fancy our chances though. Following a World Cup semi-final and a Euros runners up spot, you'd think that confidence would be high, but recent form would suggest otherwise. The results in the last year are arguably the worst run of form that I can recall. 

During that time, the football has been extremely negative and ineffective. More concerning is that the manager doesn't seem to see this as a problem. He thinks everything is going to plan. If you've watched the games, it'll be clear that there is no plan and that we have been successful in recent years in spite of the manager, not because of him. It is a special group of players that he has at his disposal and there is a danger that he will waste their talents. 

So no, I don't think it is coming home this time.

And, just this morning, one final slap in the face by FIFA to England. Throughout the build up to the World Cup, the English and Welsh FAs were adamant that both team captains would wear the rainbow armband in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Now, as the competitions kicks off, FIFA have warned that doing so could see the captains receive yellow cards. Of course, both football associations have backed down, meaning that Kane and Bale will now wear the FIFA approved armbands instead. 

They can continue to claim that the World Cup is for everyone but threatening to punish teams that choose to send a message of inclusion tells us a very different story. This is not a World Cup for everyone and they don't give a shit about inclusion. It is just hollow lip service paid to try to justify corrupt decisions. Fuck FIFA.

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