Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|November 21, 2022|4 Minutes|In Editor's Desk

Editor’s Desk

World Cup messed up!

Angry words flew before a ball was kicked. Regardless, the greatest show on earth kicked off this week in Qatar - the World Cup that will last a month and see and array of African talent on the pitch.

Senegal, Morocco, Cameroon, and Ghana will carry the African flag into the finals in the hope of becoming the first nation from the continent to lift the trophy.

That’s the passion; first, let’s deal with the anger story. Everyone from England captain Harry Kane to human rights activists have been complaining about Qatar hosting the tournament – a tiny nation in the Middle East that has little to do with professional football. How they got the tournament can probably be explained by a barrow load of money from the Qatar state coffers.

They are upset that Qatar has a questionable human rights record and criminalizes being gay and puts sweated migrant workers at risk on bargain basement building sites constructing the stadiums.

Kane risks a FIFA ban with plans to wear a “One Love” armband in solidarity with the downtrodden of Qatar. Laudable yes, but like a lot in the world of moneybags football, it is born of the suspension of disbelief when it comes to cold reality.

For the pristine white shirt that Kane will be wearing was made in a Bangladesh sweatshop by a worker who earns less than two dollars a day. Shouldn’t Kane wear a band on the other arm to point this out too?

For that matter, all the anger over the human rights record. Where was it years ago?

When Mario Kempes scored two goals in the final giving Argentina the trophy, in a cloud of ticker tape, in 1978 – the country was in the grip of a fascist military dictatorship that was killing and torturing its own people.

Speaking of fascists, the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini threatened referees with death if they didn’t give decisions in favour of his team at the finals in Italy in 1934. They did, handing Italy its first world championship, celebrated to this day> in the current era of political correctness shouldn’t this title – won in corrupt fashion – be questioned and annulled? I think so.

In 1970, Brazil won in Mexico in a blaze of green and gold. Yet, outside the stadiums, Mexico  was in the middle of its so called ‘Dirty War’ in which government goons tortured thousands of rebels and guerrillas.

Yet, so many questions were raised the first time the World Cup came to Africa in 2010. Ooh, the crime, said people who had never been there; Ooh, the political instability and poor organization.

But the 2010 World Cup in South Africa delivered a peaceful tournament, backed up by strong infrastructure, with a good feeling,  in a country with an elected government.

The epitome of that good feeling, I saw with my own eyes one sunny, joyful, afternoon as I followed the South African team as their bus headed to Bloemfontein for a group game. Mile-after-mile, thousands of schoolchildren left their classrooms to cheer their team on the way. I may be a weathered journalist, but it brought a tear to my eye.

A closing thought. If FIFA held the World Cup only in nations that refrained from ill-treating their citizens it is likely to run out of hosts – unless, of course, they have a barrow load of money.