Guest post by Martino Simcik Arese
Fifa’s executive committee have approved the timeline for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. After accusations of corruption, bribery, and deplorable working conditions, the selection process has become a symbol for the murky world of Fifa. What was originally advertised as the first World Cup played in futuristic stadiums, has become the first tournament played during Christmas. You can’t run in the desert during the summer, and after an endless string of scandals, the governing football body (pending a final vote) has decided to host its flagship event from November 26th to December 23rd.
The World Cup should be a celebration of our collective humanity. Entire countries grind to a halt to watch games, politicians flock to the tournament to seem more personable, and lovers of the game gather in the host country to celebrate. However, Fifa seems to have forgotten the people that make their tournament possible.
After ridiculing its own “ethics” committee and censoring last year’s Garcia report on the 2010 Qatar farrago, clubs have asked to be compensated for the change of schedule. The European Clubs Association has yet to estimate how much the scheduling change will cost its 214 clubs from 53 countries. After claims that Fifa had a ‘detailed discussion with all stakeholders’ one wonders which supporters groups they consulted with.
Club football and international competition serve two very different functions. The club team is a distraction from work and daily life. It allows us to celebrate our tribal identities amongst colleagues and family. Inversely, the World Cup is an opportunity to connect with the external. It’s the excuse to meet some foreigners visiting your city during the summer months, or have a beer with strangers while traveling with your friends.
At the end of the day we will just have to adapt, but as humans we’re good at that. For football fans left wondering what’s it going to feel like watching the games over a Christmas turkey, remember, it could be much worse. Human Rights officials have estimated at the current rate, one migrant worker from Nepal, India, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka in Qatar dies per day. Although you won’t likely see any of these countries take the field in November 2022, they are already the tournament’s biggest losers.
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