I love the World Cup. Ever since the 1994 US-hosting experience, I’ve been not only a cemented fan of the sport, but curious about it on the global level.
The World Cup is the Christmas that comes every four years (or pick your holiday of choice), and it oozes drama.
As I’ve attempted to tell non “soccer” people for years – in the same way we Americans love college sports for the locality, the lineup rotation, and the sophisticated but not totally polished finished product, the World Cup does that at the international level.
Yes, the players are pros, but these are like pickup games where you represent your block. They’re under-practiced as a unit, the lineup is always in flux, and when you put flags on pro egos on a global stage, the emotions get as wild.
This World Cup cycle is a weird one. And a troubling one. And an… argh.
FIFA, the organization/crime syndicate at the heart of international soccer, picked Qatar to host this tournament. Qatar, ranked by FIFA as the 130th country in the world for soccer, had 0 infrastructure in place, requiring 8 stadiums to be built from scratch (including one in a city that also had to be built), and has no tradition of the sport besides a literal handful of deep-pocketed fans (who might just be fans of deep pockets more than anything else).
Politically, Qatar punishes same-sex relationships with jail time, does not grant women the same rights as men, and has a population made up of 90% migrant workers – who do not have the rights of citizens. This is not a cool place to hang out.
When you think about the 6,500 people who have reportedly died so far in prepping the country for the tournament, your heart has to break a little.
So this World Cup is terribly complicated. How can fans watch their most beloved tournament, but know just how f*#$’d this entire situation is?
I don’t have an answer.
Pod Save the World and Men in Blazers teamed up for a special podcast series titled World Corrupt about how this tournament came to be, and how we as fans might responsibly enjoy our sport, without feeling as dark about the future of humanity.
I’m emotionally invested and messed up by this whole affair and this series is helping me process it. If you haven’t checked it out, give it a go.