What lessons can we learn, what conclusions can we draw, from the FIFA World Cup in Qatar? To what extent is the tournament a mirror image of our world?
Our world, 2022, end of... in one calendar. There are others. If we take the date of the birth of Yeshua, also known as Jesus, probably this is the end of 2028; this is also the Hégira Year 1444 for the Moslems, who respect Yeshua as a prophet but not THE son of God and anyway where in the Bible does it say that he was THE son of God? It says he was A son of God.
As we all are. Sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters on Earth. Everything is relative to what we understand as the truth and the history book for some might be labelled not as My History Book, but rather His Story Book by others. What we read in the history book we take as the truth. For example it tells us that Neptune was discovered in 1781, it even gives us a month (March) and a day (17) and it tells us that Uranus was discovered on 23 September 1846.
What that history books does not tell us is that the ancient Sumerians (4500 to 1900 BC) had words for Neptune (Antu) and Uranus (Niburu) and some five to six thousand years ago were speaking about space ships and space stations. That history book tells us that in the year fourteen ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered America. But what it does not tell us is that Columbus told the Spanish King he had already been to the Americas and knew what was there. They certainly knew about the Americas in the English city of Bristol at the time...and the Roman historian Tacitus speaks in his book Germanicus of “the large continents to the west” (of Britannia). In the 1480s, the Portuguese King João II spoke of transatlantic trade between South America and Africa; there were vestiges of cocaine and tobacco in Egyptian mummies (where did that come from?) and there were pineapples on the tables of the rich in Pompeii, at a time when pineapples did not exist in Europe, only in the Americas.
So let us entertain the notion that the Internet, like that History book, accepts what we write on its pages, and we can apply this to the media as well, which likes to draw time lines arbitrarily then present half a story turned on its head as the truth, while the focus on TV is snippets of drip by drip concocted news stories in the middle of Prince Harry and that Duchess wife of his, Megan something or other, complaining about the media while using it to forward whatever agenda they may have. And American Dad, and The Simpsons. And Football, which is slowly invading pristine areas which until now had been immune from this massification of... imbecility? Or something more useful?
There suddenly appear on the soccerizon, along with the much improved Socceroos from Down Under, North America, the Middle East, Asia, where soccermania is growing. So now maybe we can take a closer look at the FIFA World (Cup) and ask ourselves whether it presents us with any lessons.
The media, like that history book, tell us that Americans and Iranians are enemies. Yet what we saw in Qatar was a total of around thirty young men having fun playing a game of football/soccer together on an even playing field with the same rules of fair play and shaking hands at the end of it. They were opponents but not enemies.So maybe soccer/football is not such a paragon of imbecility after all. Let’s read further.
The FIFA World Cup finals saw another west/east clash of cultures, with a meal being made of workers’ rights, women’s rights and LGBT rights (the acronym grows by the minute, now it’s LGBTQIA+ and notice the plus sign) and much being made about whether Qatar should have been chosen as the venue. Where is that story now, and before the finals have finished? Maybe we can learn another lesson from the FIFA World (Cup) in which soccer/football can be used as a vehicle for communication.
The perfect answer to the question of women’s empowerment and gender equality is provided by the growing presence of female officials in the games, including the main referee (female) in the Germany versus Costa Rica match, the 38-year-old Stephanie Frappart. As for worker’s rights, I have spent decades writing about this but what better stage than a World Cup to bring the matter up and question the safety record of workers in Qatar, although some of the figures put forward did great harm to the cause? As for LGBT (etc.) rights my work is easily documented online, to the point where hate groups (quite wrongly) classify me as “a faggot” or “a pervert” for defending the human rights of all groups, be they gender based, be they ethnic minorities or people with differing sexual orientations or orientations of personal presentation. Defending these people doesn’t mean you have to be one of them but even if I was, so what?
Here, we must respect the right of societies to order themselves in accordance with the majority of citizens, not to adopt an imperialistic top-down “Hey! You must do this” approach and anyway is the public arena the appropriate place for people of whatever orientation to make out? Even heterosexuals? Ever heard the expression Get a Room?
But once again, the party is not about homosexuals cavorting in the streets, it is about young men from the four corners of the Earth coming together and playing a game together, it is about spreading the message of inclusion with the appearance of handicapped people in wheelchairs alongside the players, the inclusion of women in the FIFA officials list, and the inclusion of children when the teams are presented. As the Qatari authorities said, this is about the big issues and important issues and alongside the claims that there is no place for homophobia is the message shown by one of the teams “There is no place for Islamophobia”. How can one message be more important than the other?
Conclusion: Soccer/football/sport is no place for playing politics but it is a stage for subjects to be raised through example (women referees) and it is a place for players and teams to come together, play sport together and have fun, be these Americans, Iranians, British, Germans or whoever. And it is about inclusion of all those who bought tickets, be they women, men, gay or straight, or whatever. It is a party.
Russia, of course, was banned but then again if you ban Russia from all competitions, the others get to win more medals. Nobody was banned when Iraq was invaded and up to a million civilians died. Nobody was banned when Libya was invaded and children were bombed “legitimately” (NATO), yeah they actually said that. Nobody was banned when NATO strafed the electricity grid in Libya, Nobody was banned when NATO strafed the water supply in Libya (war crime) yet Russia is banned because...as I said before because Russian sources have been censored and silenced in a Fascist censorship policy, I am not going to speak further on the matter, let people do their own research and form their own opinions but remember what I said about time lines and that history book.
From the sports point of view, we see a growing United States of America in this game, now with organised teams and individual skills of a world class in some cases, we saw an awesome Canada team with some excellent football, we see an increase in football skills across the board with no easy teams at all and many teams unlucky not to reach the next phase, for example Uruguay with some of the most exciting football the competition has ever seen and the victim in the opinion of many of decisions taken by the match official.
We see now the Middle East region with some surprisingly good teams which can compete as equals with the best, and the Far East very well represented by the Republic of Korea and Japan, two teams which could easily be champions in a few years’ time. And we see an African team and an Islamic team, Morocco, in the semi-finals for the first time after surprising Spain and more incredibly, Portugal, whose star-studded team was sent to play a carbon copy of the Spain-Morocco game without any alteration in strategy, banging its head against the wall for ninety minutes and playing a 4-4-2 formation against a closed side. Like What the...?
Brazil made the same mistake against Croatia but lost the game because of a three-second lapse in concentration which allowed a Croatian transition and the shot they needed on goal. Then these days, as Brazil now knows and as England have known for decades, if you cannot score penalties at this level, sorry, you don’t deserve to pass on to the next round. It is a basic requirement. Brazil, and Portugal, should have reached the semi-final stage at least.
And everybody is speaking about Cristiano Ronaldo, the poor boy from the Isle of Madeira who worked hard and instead of lying down complaining, got on with the job of making himself the world’s best soccer player, carrying the team on his back for years, being an excellent captain on and off the field, being an example to countless young boys from around the world, giving the lesson that with dedication, honesty and hard work you can do whatever you want, giving a lesson promoting clean living, a healthy lifestyle and a family life. As his first career draws to its twilight, he is set to be centre stage in his next career, whatever that is.
And notice, in conclusion, we are speaking about soccer/football as a communicator, as a means of bringing people together, as a stage for an understanding of differing positions but not in an intrusive way, as a vehicle for the globalisation of values and of knowledge. There is therefore no space for politics, or religion, in football and those who advocate the spreading of marginalisation and hatred in sport have no place in the game. The game belongs to us, the people, for us to enjoy together, having fun, enjoying fair play, as brothers and sisters. Those who are trying to insult us all by using football as a vehicle for exclusion do not belong to the FIFA World. Or its Cup. It is a game that belongs to us all.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey can be contacted at [email protected]
A Russian fighter with call sign Rassvet (Sunrise) destroyed an Abrams tank in the area of Avdiivka, the 15th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade said