The goal of this article is not to plant a sense of guilt within those who choose to watch the World Cup. Fans and players are the prisoners in this mess, and I can’t (and won’t) blame you, if you want to follow your national team. This article is solely a presentation of my personal view of the World Cup in Qatar.
I won’t give you the big history lesson in this article. For that I recommend that you to watch Tifo Football’s “The Qatar World Cup” series on Youtube. You can read on without this knowledge - don’t worry. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
So about a month ago, I decided that I wasn’t going to watch the FIFA World Cup 2022. This choice wasn’t hard for me, but I still find it both frustrating and sad that I won’t be able to follow Denmark or South Korea on screen, when both of them are competing in this year’s tournament. I had long debated with myself whether I was going to watch the World Cup, but as I started to dive into the topic about a year ago, it quickly became clear to me that this World Cup was no ordinary tournament - actually, this tournament has very little to do with football in the grand scheme of things.
Three days ago, in the afternoon, I closed my laptop in anger. I had just watched Infantino’s now infamous press conference. Normally in a press conference, the media gets to ask questions, but this wasn’t the case this time. The FIFA president performed an hour-long monologue and once again confirmed that FIFA is an absolute curse. In the monologue, Infantino (of course) defended the decision to place the World Cup in Qatar, and he even lashed out at critics, accusing them of being both racist and hypocritical. And Mr. Infantino - before I move on; being gay isn’t a feeling, and neither is having a disability or being a migrant worker. I don’t need to tell you that your pathetic attempt at being inclusive seem very hollow in the wake of this exact World Cup, where homosexuality is in fact illegal, and where FIFA hasn’t stepped in when it comes to bettering the working conditions for the almost 1 million migrant workers who were hired to build an entire World Cup from the bottom up.
And honestly, I don’t blame him for defending the decision. His organisation has made a lot of promises to some of the richest and most powerful people in the world, and one could only imagine what would become of Infantino if he was to suddenly question the integrity and legitimacy of the World Cup, which was “awarded” to Qatar back in 2010. And for those of you who are wondering - yes, Qatar did bribe several members of the FIFA executive committee in order to get the World Cup - this has been confirmed by Sepp Blatter himself in an interview with Danish journalist, Jan Jensen.
It may seem obvious why I choose not to watch the tournament. I feel that football has moved away from its core values. Or actually, FIFA has been moving it away from its core values for a long time - this is just the culmination of that process, and it’s also the first time where I’m in a position to question why I choose to follow football. For a long time, I believed that football wasn’t important. And to some extent that is true. If you isolate it to just the sport, football isn’t very important. But if you think about it, football might be one of the most important things in the world. It’s a global business, and it’s unique in its nature, because it relies on fandom - I often compare it to the music industry, because it follows similar patterns.
FIFA are basing their business on what we call “The Beautiful Game”, and you know what they say - with great power comes great responsibility. Football is so great, because it can unite people like nothing else. It can be played by everyone, and it is played by everyone. “Football for everyone” has always been a core value portrayed by FIFA. So let me ask you this - if football is for everyone, then why the fuck is the tournament organized in a country where not everyone is welcome? And it’s always the same excuse: “Let’s separate sports and politics”. Dear Mr. Infantino, if you are not aware that sports and politics can’t be separated, you really aren’t fit to lead the biggest and most influential football association in the world. You wish for Ukraine and Russia to have a truce while we play? Honestly - what do you expect? You are only interested in politics when you get to decide what is politics and what is not.
I’m a fan of football. But football is not just football anymore. And as a consumer, it’s my responsibility to say no when that product no longer aligns with the values it was based upon in the first place. The only difficulty I’ve faced in the decision to not watch the World Cup has been because I have a desire to watch football for entertainment purposes, and because I have been telling myself that watching my nation play was the best way to support them. There are hundreds of others ways I can support them, and in the end, this made it a very easy decision for me.
And does it help? Yes - in numbers. The number of viewers will be a very important (if not the most important) metric when assessing how successful this year’s World Cup has been. And I can’t let Infantino be right - this can’t be the best World Cup ever, because it’s probably the worst World Cup ever. It’s my hope, that this World Cup won’t gain as much attention from viewers as previous World Cups. It was always going to be a pain not to watch the World Cup, because I love football, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices in order to make change - especially when you’re up against FIFA. So for the first time ever, I’m going to not watch football, because I love football.
It was confirmed yesterday that no teams are going to wear the “One Love Armband”, because FIFA will hand out yellow cards to those who do. It was also confirmed that Belgium has been forced to change their 3rd kit because it says “love” on the collar. You can, of course, debate whether a yellow card is worth the statement (which it surely is), but ultimately it just goes to show that FIFA have reached their limit. Sanctioning the players is serious, as FIFA has now taken the matter onto the field.
In my eyes, the best thing you can do, is educate yourself. Nothing is ever going to change if we’re just complaining for the sake of complaining. And yes - you can question whether there’s ethnic consistency within my decision, because what about Russia? I simply wasn’t as aware at the time, and therefore, my ethical consistency begins now.
And to all of you who decide to watch. I don’t blame you for watching the games. But I hope I at least helped you to think about what you support, and why you support it.
Also: Why the fuck is the World Cup in Qatar, when the Danish team actually has a decent shot at achieving something. Life really is suffering.