Qatar and the World Cup (part two)
Someone was going to do something about the controversial tournament, and that is England. How will they go about doing this?
(Reading time: 4 minutes)
Leave it to the FA to do something big. Something risky. Especially when one of their own is doing the opposite.
England’s Football Association, or the FA has never been shy to take a stand. They were the first to implement clubs taking a knee at games. They, surprisingly, do hand out bans and suspensions with the right type of attitude, which can be harsh. The FA may be the only soccer organisation in the world with competence, even when their fans are starting to creep back to the days of hooliganism, something no one wants. (Just look at the incidents following the Euro 2020 final in Wembley. Horrific.)
So now comes Qatar, strolls in with a terrible human rights record, buys the World Cup, so naturally England has to do something.
Conversely, one of their own, one of their greats, is on the side of Qatar.
David Beckham, who is always going to be an English hero no matter what his international career looked like and no matter what he does in retirement, is promoting the Qatar World Cup. Not on television ads or anything like that, no, he is pushing aside the Qatari’s terrible human rights record and saying that all will be well and that the world will be amazed at Qatar’s progress.
It’s not a doubt that Gareth Southgate’s men will protest in some form (they always took a knee before each game of Euro 2020, and other teams followed) but they have to do it carefully.
Grant Wahl reported while he was in Doha that Qatar was enforcing an app to be downloaded by affiliated with the World Cup that is essentially spycraft, or showing your location at all times. This means that the Qatari government can track you down if they have a bone to pick. So, if you want to protest, don’t, because this scary piece of technology is there to potentially wipe you out.
This is why it should be considered that it is quite unsafe to be travelling there. Especially if you’ve made comments against the Qatari. We’ve already seen two Norwegian TV journalists detained after investigating the bad treatment of foreign workers building the stadiums.
Whether England decides to wear shirts that read the names of the arrested journalists, Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani, or take a knee or something else, they have to be ultra-cautious because in countries like Qatar, if you get arrested there’s no point in trying to fight it, the government will ensure you get a one-way ticket to jail, and most likely death there.
Qatar signing on David Beckham was really quite smart. Knowing that England and the FA would make a stand, bringing in Beckham would definitely mean second thoughts from some of the English players who definitely idolised the star.
On the other hand, if an English player was targeted, FIFA, as bad decision makers as they are, would likely pull the trigger and immediately suspend the World Cup, since England is one of their biggest nations, and ban Qatar from international soccer indefinitely.
So, could this be a lose-lose-lose for the three parties?
But there’s one more subdivision of this: Inter Miami. David Beckham’s club in MLS is building and has a state-of-the-art stadium on the way. If Beckham’s reputation is tarnished by promoting this World Cup, how will the Inter Miami brand look? The herons pink-and-black brand their biggest asset, meaning Beckham finds a lot of money from it. They also have many minority supporters groups, and since Qatar mistreats foreign workers, those groups may react.
Since the intersection of sports and politics gets bigger, it should be no surprise a situation like this is happening. But the fact that it includes a national hero and a national team in sports, not in government, come on. Southgate should have a well thought out plan of attack, both for a statement against the wrongs of Qatar and a statement of how talented the team is, their first game at Khalifa International Stadium against Iran.