World Cup Gets Medieval and Charlie Kirk Gets Vapid
Ron DeSantis Gets Dystopian, Wimbledon Gets Realistic, Nikki Haley Gets Crazy, Louisiana Gets Slavery, and More
So much to get through this week that I’m going to get right to it. Among all the commentary are two lighter presents: Ralph Fiennes reading a hysterical monologue from The Real Housewives and a delightful video of Louis Armstrong.
Sports: World Cup Sportswashing Dirty Laundry
‘I feel gay, disabled … like a woman too!’: Infantino makes bizarre attack on critics (The Guardian)
Summary: “The Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, has accused critics of Qatar’s human rights record of staggering hypocrisy and racism in a bizarre and incendiary attack on the eve of the 2022 World Cup finals.” In a 57-minute speech, he rebuked western countries of being hypocrites due to their own past and current behavior. He went on to say, “Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arabic. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel [like] a migrant worker. Of course I am not Qatari, I am not an Arab, I am not African, I am not gay, I am not disabled. But I feel like it, because I know what it means to be discriminated [against], to be bullied, as a foreigner in a foreign country. As a child I was bullied – because I had red hair and freckles, plus I was Italian, so imagine.”
My Take: I’m still reeling from his tone-deaf comparison of being bullied for having red hair and freckles to the kind of violent, life-threatening, rights-denying abuse the LGBTQ+ community faces. In the meantime, let’s look at the issues:
About five billion people worldwide will watch the World Cup, with about 1.2 million attending in person. That makes it more than just a sporting event, it makes all of those who watch it enablers of the host country, which expects to profit from the event, whether in cash or in publicity that will later translate into more tourism or increased international business dealings.
What we always have to be on guard about is “sportswashing,” which is when a country uses a popular and prestigious sporting event to polish their tarnished international reputation regarding human rights. As China did with the 2022 Winter Olympics.
It’s true that no country has clean hands when it comes to racism, misogyny, mistreatment of immigrants, or anti-LGBTQ+ laws, but there are lines that have to be drawn. We can say that all human beings are imperfect and commit regrettable acts. But there’s a difference when the regrettable act is lying or stealing and when it is rape or murder. One way to draw that line with countries is to look at how serious efforts are in that country to change.
Both Qatar and FIFA have faced criticism and scrutiny for years. Qatar has been accused of abuses among the immigrant, with The Guardian reporting that at least 6,500 migrant workers have died through poor conditions, low pay, and overworking in preparations fro the World Cup. In addition, the anti-LGBTQ+ laws have drawn criticism. Migrants make up 94% of the country’s total labor force.
FIFA has also faced scandals ever since it awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar in 2010. There have been investigations into bribery allegations suggesting that Qatar bribed FIFA officials. Nearly two dozen FIFA officials and corporate executives have faced bribery charges. An investigation into corruption allegations conducted by FIFA’s chief ethics investigator and former United States attorney Michael J. Garcia “found evidence of serious irregularities in the bidding process but offered no conclusive proof that Qatari officials had used bribes to influence the outcome of the vote.”
Infantino warned participating athletes to shut up and dribble: “We know football does not live in a vacuum and we are equally aware that there are many challenges and difficulties of a political nature all around the world. But please do not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists.”
However, the U.S. team made our country proud when they joined other teams in training with groups of migrant construction workers. They also chose to use a rainbow flag on its crest in support of LGBTQ rights. That’s a win right there.