Winter World Cup
We’re less than 48 hours away from the official beginning of the 2022 World Cup. As I’ve mentioned, this will be the first World Cup ever not played during the summer thanks to sweltering weather in Qatar. Thanks to the merger of capitalism and false narratives, we’ve reached this unprecedented autumn event. It’s like Columbus Day with added corruption!
I need to explain the term sportswashing because you will be hearing it often over the next month. Essentially, sportswashing is the use of sports as a public relations vehicle to divert negative attention away from dastardly deeds. It usually occurs in locations rife with dictatorships, human rights offenses, and other scandals. Instead of focusing on the issues with the organization or host locations, we instead focus our time and energy on the various sports entertainment factors. Sportswashing is a very effective method of reputation laundering.
The 2022 World Cup is shaping up to be quite an eventful next few weeks. A man was planning on hiking from his hometown in Spain to an Iranian ferry to get to Qatar for the tournament but he was detained in Iran for reasons unknown. The Iranian national team is gearing up to protest the military crackdown in their home nation. There have been allegations of Qatari government officials paying people to pretend to be fans from various host nations due to the Islamic country’s strict rules around alcohol and public indecency. This has led to the creation of drunk tanks and hidden vendors inside the World Cup stadiums. Qatar has vehemently denied these fake fan allegations but has admitted to paying for the travel and lodging for a large contingent of social media influencers. The only catch is that they can only post positive experiences about their time in the country.
Perhaps most troubling is British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly promising to attend this year’s World Cup whilst also telling LGBTQ fans in attendance “be respectful of the host nation” while “showing a little bit of respect and compromise.” What he means by those statements is to avoid any type of protest or public display of affection that may get someone in trouble in the Islamic nation where same-sex relationships are currently illegal. The host nation wants people to turn a blind eye to various civil and human rights offenses happening there while spending large sums to travel and attend the tournament’s games. The capitalistic nature of any World Cup depends on tourism from people from all walks of life coming to the tournament to justify the money spent on planning, but they don’t want those people to be critical of what they see or experience there. Which is the essence of sportswashing.
I will be watching the World Cup and rooting for the United States national team, but I completely understand if anyone is planning on skipping this year’s edition. I highly recommend the Netflix series “FIFA Uncovered” as it does a great job of highlighting how we got to this point with the World Cup, corruption, and sportswashing. And ultimately, I hope that everyone that plans on visiting Qatar can safely return home, and I hope that all of the games are entertaining.
Because the whole point of sportswashing is to provide a distraction.
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