The World Cup scores an own-goal

APTOPIX WCup Argentina Saudi Arabia Soccer
A general view of the stadium prior to the start of the World Cup group C soccer match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) Luca Bruno/AP

The World Cup scores an own-goal

The soccer-ball World Cup comes round every four years. This year, the circus has rolled into Qatar. What better ad for “the beautiful game” than selling its most prestigious event to a repressive police state that sponsors Islamist terrorism? This World Cup is an own-goal for Qatar and for FIFA, the International Federation of Association Football. Two corrupt oligarchies who prefer to operate in the shadows have turned themselves into a sporting spectacle.

Qatar also hosts the anti-American propaganda channel al Jazeera, as well as a massive U.S. military base. The Qataris like to have it both ways. They bolstered their World Cup bid with promises to build air-conditioned stadiums so the tournament could be played in the summer close season as usual despite the heat. They promised they would allow their heathen guests to drink alcohol in public and that there would be no discrimination against anyone.

Once the Qataris secured hosting rights, they moved the tournament to November, the middle of the season. Shortly before the tournament opened, they announced that there would be no public boozing. In case anyone doubted that Qatar was suspending its anti-gay legal code for the duration, one of the World Cup’s “ambassadors,” the Qatari midfielder Khalid Salman, said that homosexuality was “haram” because it is “damage in the mind.” Play the ball, Khalid, not the man.

The European players intended to wear OneLove armbands in support of the LGBTQ, etc., etc., community. They left their armbands in the dressing room, along with their principles, when FIFA, pressured by the Qataris, warned it would penalize anyone who wore mind-damaging symbols. The Iranian team, by contrast, bravely refused to sing its national anthem before its first game. We must assume that the regime in Tehran threatened the players and their families, because they sang the words before their second match. FIFA said nothing.

Like the International Olympic Committee, or Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Greenpeace, FIFA is a nongovernmental organization that conducts its affairs with the vanity, opacity, and venality of a banana republic. FIFA talks up the game as a global unifier, advancing universal tolerance. It promotes progressive ideals such as gender equality, tolerance of gays, taking a knee for Black Lives Matter, and not giving public floggings to foreigners who get caught with a bottle of Johnny Walker Black.

In reality, FIFA has always dealt in the green stuff, the brown envelopes, and the gray areas. It gave the 1934 tournament to Benito Mussolini’s Italy and the 1978 tournament to the fascist junta in Argentina. The 2010 World Cup went to South Africa, that haven of gay rights. Morocco won more votes, but South Africa, it later emerged, paid $10 million to FIFA’s vice president, Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago, and various other members of the committee. The American representative, Chuck Blazer, took an estimated $15 million between 1998 and 2011. He became an FBI informant in 2011 to avoid charges of racketeering, wire fraud, income tax evasion, and money laundering. Penalty!

The 2018 World Cup went to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, another beacon of financial probity and human rights. Qatar promoted its 2022 bid through a campaign of bribery that was ambitious, even by FIFA’s standards. According to Swiss police, al Jazeera secretly offered deals totaling $880 million. The representatives of Ivory Coast and Cameroon are alleged to have accepted a paltry $1.5 million each. Jack Warner, abetted by the United Kingdom’s David Triesman, asked for $4 million, ostensibly for an education center in Trinidad and Tobago, because they’re all heart. Paraguay’s representative sold himself short by offering to support England’s bid in return for an honorary knighthood.

Eleven of the 22 FIFA Executive Committee members who voted in 2010 on the 2018 and 2022 decisions have been fined, suspended, banned for life, or prosecuted for corruption. After the decisions, Qatar’s representative, Mohammed bin Hammam, ran for FIFA’s presidency. He abandoned his campaign after being accused of bribing 25 fellow officials. Offside!

As many as 6,500 indentured foreign laborers died building Qatar’s pharaonic stadiums. The Qataris say the true number is about a tenth of that. They are peeved that the Western hypocrites aren’t giving them the kudos they’ve bought so lavishly — as if it’s no big deal to mislay 500 Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, Jimmy Hoffa-style. Foul!

FIFA has turned a field of dreams into a civilizational battlefield. It has sold the world’s favorite sport to the highest bidders, and they have run away with the ball and exposed themselves as liars and bigots. Meanwhile, FIFA’s surrender to the Qataris’ quaint habits and queer attitudes shows the whole world that the West’s institutional wokeness is just a front for a corrupt hustle. Soccer really can unite us, if only in mutual contempt.

Sport is supposed to build character. In this case, it’s showing us the auto-destruction of Western values in high definition. Never fear. The highest ethical standards will be restored by the 2026 tournament. This will be held jointly by the United States, Canada, and Mexico. I don’t know who gave out the brown envelopes for that one, but I doubt it was the Canadians.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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