I’m glad the weather was good in London yesterday, or otherwise I might have had to spend half the day reading the Sunday Times expose of Qatar’s football World Cup shenanigans.
The newspaper devoted ten entire pages to the scandal – or alleged scandal as I suppose I must still call it – citing ‘millions’ of emails, recorded telephone calls and other allegedly incriminating documents pointing to Qatar buying its award of the 2022 World Cup. The recent European elections only warranted a couple of pages. Overkill is the word that comes to mind.
Still, football is football. It’s a world sport, and in some countries a religion. The latter point, of course, is one I couldn’t make in Qatar as it would probably be interpreted as apostasy. I am, however, happy to learn that the skills of investigative journalism are still being practised; the Sunday Times has done a splendid job on this story. And even happier that Qatar’s prospects of hosting the tournament are now seriously threatened. FIFA (translating to Federation of International Football Associations) had no business even considering Qatar. On the other hand it was precisely business that led to considering Qatar.
How do we despise Qatar. Let me count the ways.
+First the climate. Temperatures there, during the period the matches will be played, will range from 40 to 50 degrees Celsius. That’s too hot for tiddlywinks, let alone football. The tournament can’t be moved to the winter months, as that would clash with Europe’s football seasons. The Qataris have some absurd notion that they can put air-conditioning in the stadiums. That might cool off the planet a bit, or at least their bit.
+Qatar has a population of less than one million so will rely on foreign supporters arriving in their tens of millions. That I would have thought an unlikely prospect as they will be at serious risk of incarceration under Qatari laws banning drinking, swearing and public displays of affection (among the country’s many other supposed offences against decency).
+Qatar is compulsively undemocratic, with a government in the hands of a ruling family that defines enlightenment in ways that might have given Torquemada and Hitler pause for thought. FIFA will claim that it doesn’t concern itself with national politics. That’s because it’s too busy concerning itself with bribery, corruption and self-preservation.
+Nearly one thousand foreign workers, mostly Filipinos on wages below subsistence levels, have died building the football stadiums and related projects. In Qatar poor migrant workers are secretly regarded as sub-human and even publicly regarded as expendable.
+And now, thanks to the Sunday Times, we learn that shadowy figures who may or may not have been representing the government (what do you think?) have handed out millions of dollars in ‘gifts’ to the representatives of those countries whose votes were needed to win the bidding to stage the tournament.
Even Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s president, will now have to reconsider the Qatar question. He’d like it to go away. It would if he had his way. Now even that slippery little creep can’t avoid facing the discordant music.
I for one can’t wait to hear it.
And then award the games to Ukraine instead. They could sure use the money. And it might just distract the government from the current national sport of shooting each other.