World Cup Highlights
In a world where footballers like Marcus Rashford have fed hungry schoolchildren and players have taken the knee against racism, is there an argument that football and politics don’t mix? The two are hard to separate as sport is inherently political. Add the dripping corruption from FIFA and you get the abhorrent result that was the Qatar World Cup.
So, despite Gianni Infantino, President of FIFA, saying “We are defending human rights,” we’ve put together a list of reasons why this is not necessarily the case. Here are the highlights of justice and equal rights in the Qatar World Cup that made the headlines.
Despite FIFA blocking President Zelensky’s appeal to be broadcast to the world before the World Cup final, it was shared by players and the media alike. It was a message about being united by peace through football; a sentiment he echoed in his address for all who value peace and life.
Members of the Russian band, Pussy Riot, were detained from trying to storm the pitch on Sunday’s final to protest many issues. These included the war in Ukraine, the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition leader, and women’s oppression in Iran.
A protester made his way onto the pitch bearing a rainbow flag with the Italian word for peace emblazoned on it and a “Save Ukraine” t-shirt during the Portugal/Uruguay match.
The Palestinian flag was waved onto the pitch during the Tunisia/France game. Morocco even celebrated with this flag in the quarterfinals, even though Palestine was absent from the World Cup.
The US saw themselves in hot water with Iran after altering their flag without an Islamic Republic emblem, offending the country’s dignity.
England took the knee before the opening whistle in a bid of some sort of solidarity. Fans and journalists brave enough to wear equal rights clothing either had them confiscated or were detained.
The Iranian team stayed silent during their national anthem, speaking volumes about the lack of support for the Qatari regime and against the protests back home in regards to women’s rights.
Germany wore rainbow stripes on their boots and put their hands over their mouths during a team photo as a way of saying FIFA was censoring them.
Amnesty International has released a free mod for the FIFA 23 game that gives you a special team kit dedicated to the migrant workers that lost their lives who made the World Cup happen. Known as the Forgotten Team, it allows you to play in a digital space for human rights.
FIFA - The Good News
Perhaps the only decent thing FIFA did was make use of women referees in a country that has such restrictive laws and rights for women. Six women officiated the Germany/Costa Rica match in a first-ever. Women have never done this to a men’s match before.
FIFA fined Croatia 72,600 Canadian dollars for the abusive behaviour of their fans towards Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan.
Perhaps a bit too coincidentally, several sports journalists died in close proximity to each other. Grant Wahl, American journalist, Roger Pearce, British journalist, and Khalid al-Misslam, Qatari journalist, all died suddenly. While Wahl was detained for wearing a rainbow t-shirt, no details have been released about the deaths of Pearce or al-Misslam.
Qatar upped its figures on migrant worker deaths from 37 to between 400 and 500. While it’s progress to a more correct figure, it’s nowhere near the estimated 6,500 reported by the Guardian earlier this year. Through several interviews, Qatar dodged questions about migrant worker deaths.
Despite the corruption of FIFA, it’s important that issues are highlighted. As many players have been interviewed saying, these people have an opportunity to use their platform to promote inclusivity and to set an example for the rest of the world and the younger generations.