12/3/10

World Cups that are yet to take place, outrage that already has

Last night, Russia and Qatar were named the host nations for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments.

For the 2018 World Cup, England was a contender as a possible host. For 2022, the USA was in the mix.

To say that the media of both these countries have not taken their defeat well would be an understatement. The moment the cameras in Zurich trained on Prince William’s glum face, the BBC was already muttering about racism in Russia. On the Guardian’s football pages, the overwhelmingly middle-aged white football journalists snarkily suggested that black footballers better keep away from Moscow and St. Petersburg. Those are the journalists who go to places such as France, Italy and Spain on holidays where incidents like this, this and this happen. And who give those countries a pass when it comes to moral outrage because, my, they are so picturesque. And you can binge drink in them and show off your designer thongs (if you’re white-skinned, mind). And rotting corpses on beaches? Pshaw! Check out those blue waves and the sparkling sea. But the corpses - those are just gypsy girls. They are (in hushed tones) not exactly Italian, right? Mozzarella and tomato and spaghetti Italian. Not Monica Belluci Italian.

Oh and Mario Balotelli who gets abused for being a black man on the Italian national team? His repeated complaints about the invective and monkey chants thrown at him every time he plays for Italy or in Italy are dismissed by English journalists as the complaints of a petulant player.

And then of course, there was the powder keg of Qatar 2022. Out came the closet racists on the Guardian’s comment pages. “Gay rights”, “Women’s rights”, “Workers rights”, “Amnesty International Reports”. These are the football fans who vociferously support gay rights by abusing footballers and coaches with the most disgusting homophobic vitriol every other Saturday. These are the supporters who drove Justin Fashnau, the only English footballer to date to come out of the closet, to take his own life in a cold garage in 1998.

As for Amnesty’s view of the UK? Doesn’t exactly make for pretty reading.

Oh and Qatar hates Israel and Jews so much that they won’t allow that country to play in the 2022 World Cup if it qualifies. A comment that gained traction on the Guardian’s blogs except for this to undermine that supposed truth.

Nate Silver, the statistician who writes the FiveThirtyEight blog on the New York Times is “puzzled” by why Qatar would have got the 2022 World Cup. Here’s a hint Nate: the money, the accessibility and the fact that the Middle East is one of the most football crazy places on earth. Africa, Asia and Europe are just a couple of hours away. One of the biggest economies in Asia with a burgeoning middle class is three hours’ flight from Doha. Think that didn’t rate with the beancounters at FIFA?

No country on the planet is perfect. This is just a sporting tournament, not an award for ethics. There will be skulduggery and corruption. There will be abuse of human rights. But before the declining powers of the West go around looking under Russian and Qatari rocks for dirty secrets, clean out your own backyard first, stop invading countries illegally and don’t smear an entire religion or race with the same paintbrush. Think you can do that? No?

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

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