How best to protest greed and human-rights abuses in Qatar…

Date published: Saturday 2nd April 2022 9:00 - Editor F365

Gianni Infantino prepares for the FIFA World Cup draw in Qatar.

The Friday feeling is yet to find a Mailbox full of missives over the World Cup in Qatar, dirty money in football, and the under-fire Harry Maguire.

Have your say to theeditor@football365.com

 

We’re all culpable
In 1964, in New York, a bartender called Kitty Genovese was attacked and subsequently murdered on her way home from work. Dozens of bystanders witnessed the attack, but none of them intervened. Psychological studies that looked into this have dubbed the phenomenon “diffusion of responsibility” which basically means that the bystanders who chose to do nothing shared the responsibility for doing nothing with all the other bystanders, which dilutes the role that they played in her murder, and thus the guilt that they feel.

I am citing this because I have just read an interview with all round good guy (no irony) Graeme Le Saux has spoken out about the influence that money has on the game, and how some, if not much of the money that makes the game go around is of dubious origin. We all know he is right. All of us, even the neanderthal Chelsea fans that chose to chant Abramovich’s name when the crowd was supposed to paying some respect (a basically empty gesture, let’s be frank) to those affected by the war in Ukraine.

The problem I have with Le Saux is that he constantly suggested that “football” has to sort the issue out, and I have a problem with this because “football” is a vague, fairly abstract concept. Football is the players. Football is the fans. Football is the managers and coaches. Football is UEFA, an FIFA, and all the other continental bodies that I can’t be arsed to looked up their acronyms. And because it is all these things, all of things are responsible on some level. But because there are so many of these things, everyone in football has diluted the personal responsibility that they have. And so the problem will not be solved.

There’s no point in expecting those who profit so obscenely to sort this problem out. They won’t. And I’m not even being judgey there. As the prices of everything go up and I have to adjust the way I spend the limited money that I have to look after my family, would I turn down a perfectly legitimate, large source of income that would release this pressure and allow to me to have a more privileged life than I currently do, free from the pressures of balancing the books? It’s not going to happen, but I doubt that I would turn it down, because I could very reasonably argue that me turning it down isn’t going to make any difference, and are my principles really going to deny my children a better quality of life?

No.

We’re all whores in our own way.

The one thing – the one single thing – that can resolve this (because the powers that be are too f*cking corrupt and that isn’t going to change) is the fans, because without the support of the fans, football will die. But that means denying myself one of the true pleasures I have in life, and it doesn’t matter that I support Liverpool, because they have their nose in the same trough of dirty money.

If you contribute financially to the game as a fan, then you are by default propping up all the shit things that modern football is.

I’m not lecturing you, you understand. I am a fan too, but the responsibility I have as a single fan is so diffused that it is all but meaningless, just like yours.

There is power in solidarity of course, but there is no solidarity beyond a bit of mutual hand-wringing and giving out about how awful it all is on social media and websites.

So if we aren’t prepared to deny us the undeniable entertainment that football is, do we really have the right to complain about how f*cked up it all is? I don’t think so.
Mat (a right ray of f*cking sunshine today)

 

Shine a light on Qatar
The strongest statement to be made against the Qatar World Cup would, of course, be to not go, and we should praise the Italians for their heroic stance on this.

But given that’s not happening, for various understandable reasons, what is the best response from the teams that are attending? By all accounts this was one of the questions being discussed during this England camp.

I have a simple suggestion, which means I’ve likely not considered a bunch of things, so look forward to having the flaws pointed out in my reasoning. The goal for the Qataris is sports washing and sports washing works by waving shiny things to distract from the horrible things various regimes get up to. So would not the perfect response for the teams going to talk ceaselessly about this issues? Wear rainbow flags and some sort of protest against slavery. To mention the estimated totals of dead slaves in each stadium they play in. To make the the taste of this World Cup bitter. Sports washing only works if what you’re left with is cleaner than before. Maybe highlighting the sh*t is the way to defeat it?
Robert

 

…I read with interest Plato’s first missive and the excellent responses, then Plato issued their own response in which they claim “it is damaging to misrepresent facts and sensationalise.”
The facts at issue here are the numbers of deaths of migrants and what percentage of 6500 of them might have been indentured migrant workers or other migrant workers who are vulnerable to a wide range of abuses and how many might have been wealthy “expat” (white migrant) workers.
Plato suggests the 6500 quoted in many media outlets as the number of deaths of migrant workers in Qatar could have been an overestimate due to a range of factors which are somewhat plausible but in reality do not stack up.
The sad facts of the matter are that the 6500 figure is a gross underestimate, as it only accounts for workers from five Asian countries as shown in the guardian report. According to Human Rights Watch the data on migrant worker deaths collected by the Qatari authorities is “neither disaggregated nor comprehensive” frustrating attempts at meaningful analysis. While it would be possible to conclude from this that maybe the problem isn’t as big as some think, there are lots of indicators which suggest that the problem is much, much worse.
In Amnesty International’s report, Reality Check 2021: A Year to the 2022 World Cup, they show that Qatar’s own Planning and Statistics Authority (PSA) “has published figures showing that a total of 15,021 non-Qataris – of all ages, occupations and causes – have died in Qatar in the past 10 years.” Again, this is the official data which is lacking the necessary data for further analysis. So there is a question here, why would Qatar obscure data which could tell a better story than the one where thousands upon thousands of migrant workers die? When you see that, as the Guardian states, “69% of deaths among Indian, Nepali and Bangladeshi workers are categorised as natural.” and 85% of Qatar’s population of 2.9 million are migrants, then it is not unfair to conclude that the problem is quite a lot worse than suggested and the obfuscation on the part of Qatari authorities is because of this fact.
As Plato said, Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. There is a lot of money involved and people need to be distracted by the sports on the wall sized telly boxes.

Kindest regards,
Reub

 

If England took a stand
I don’t understand, why some people think a boycott by England is pointless.

Imagine if England when to Qatar. Then waited for kick off and walked off the pitch for all their group games.

If they spend all their time in Qatar explaining why they were not playing.

I think it would have a big impact on the tournament. it is not just England. if any big nation did this it would have a similar impact.

it could even create a movement during the tournament.
Joe Melbourne via longford (I don’t think it will happen.)


England aren’t unique in abuse problem; football culture is toxic


 

Pelters at the panto
Ah, fans can abuse Harry Maguire, before he’s even kicked a ball, because it’s in the same spirit as the panto.

Well, maybe there’s a nuance that Rob is missing, not being from the home of panto, so I’ll explain – pantomimes aren’t real, they’re plays performed by actors. And the audiences are generally aware that it’s a piece of fiction, so booing the villain is a bit of silly fun (if you’re into that sort of thing) which the villain is actually in on. Sorry to ruin it for you, but the villain also knew that Alladin was behind him the whole time… People aren’t booing at a pantomime with the intent of abusing someone…

So the comparison with Maguire, who I expect wasn’t in on the booing, isn’t really apt. I’m not saying that the people booing weren’t enjoying themselves like a panto audience. I think they were, because they take pleasure in abusing someone in a relative anonymity of a crowd, because they are (i) cowards and (ii) sh*t people.

So if Rob is at the panto anytime soon, and she makes a decision you’re unhappy with, remember that you’re not supposed to chant that Widow Twanky is a wanker.
Andy (MUFC)

 

…”Do all the people squeezing every last drop of outrage over the boos forget what the entire audience is expected to do at a Panto?”. That might just be the stupidest thing I’ve ever read and I’m touching 50. Ignoring the obvious that football is in fact not pantomime, there’s another simple problem with Rob’s “thinking”. Harry Maguire is not a villain. He doesn’t get paid to play the role of a villain. He’s not a wrestling heel. He doesn’t play the bad guy in Coronation Street. Whatever “comedy soap opera” you think you’re participating in is all in your head. Nobody has ever left a football match saying “Yeah they played well but it could have been funnier”.

I nominate Rob for the role of villain. Everyone round to Rob’s work and boo him. Such a bizarre mail.
SC, Belfast

 

…Rob, you forgot the bit about panto being performed by actors playing made-up parts.

Michael, it isn’t unreasonable to think that England ‘supporters’ booing him even though he’s absolutely been a very good player for England for a number of years – and made no major errors – might knock his confidence and his poor club form might then be carried over to England matches and could ultimately ending up costing England in Qatar.

Sara, it’s appalling that you’re subject to threats and abuse on a daily basis in your job. That shouldn’t be reality for you or anyone.
Doug, Prestwick

 

Maguire, Liverpool, and abuse
Harry Maguire was not abused and it’s actually offensive to say so. There were boos when his name was announced on the team sheet. Fans gently expressed their democratic opposition to the continued selection of a player who has not merited it. They did not boo him throughout the game. Even F365 called it abuse. Southgate likened it to the booing of John Barnes and Sterling for the crime of being black. He also ignored the most recent incident where Gomez got booed for having the temerity of being assaulted by a teammate. Now that’s abuse. The Maguire ‘incident’ is the only one that is being made out to be a national tragedy

When abuse does happen in stadiums everyone shrugs it off. After the Leicester and Liverpool league cup game Lineker was asked to comment on the disgusting shouts of ‘always the victims’ and ‘sign on’. He feigned ignorance when he could’ve said I didn’t hear anything but it’s appalling if it happened. Diogo Jota is on record saying he heard them on the bench and it riled him up enough to give it to Leicester fans after his winning penalty.

These chants are abuse but everyone feigns ignorance. It is a matter of historical record that Hillsborough was pure police brutality. You can even see on the videos how they are forcing fans back into the suffocating pen when they try to escape. The people of Liverpool, supporters of both clubs, are still traumatized by that incident yet everyone just ignores the chants which are clearly audible even through the TV.

It’s the same with the poverty chants. A city put through ‘managed decline’ by Maggie Thatcher and the tories. Yet the reaction is “it’s banter, part of football, move on”. Yet when Harry Maguire’s selection despite continually stinking up the place is gently booed by fans, it becomes a national tragedy.

I know even this mail will be greeted with the same “look at Liverpool fans, it’s always about them, they’re always the victims” but nothing I said is untrue. It’s long since the vile Munich chants have been stamped out by Liverpool supporters. A very small number of Liverpool fans came out with the rent boys chant against Chelsea and there was rightfully a media backlash against it and that was stamped out too. I’m not even from Liverpool but these chants anger me every week. What kind of a person celebrates brutality against working class people by the state and laughs about it?

Maguire was not abused. He cupped his ears and taunted the fans during the last international break. Yet he can’t be expected to take some light boos in return? Get a grip. Footballers are booed all the time for poor performance and that is fans’ democratic right. He is not being booed for being the race or religion that he is. Nor is he being booed for hailing from a certain area. He is being booed for doing his job badly and being rewarded despite that. If football fans cannot even criticize his footballing performances without being called abusers, what’s the point in even following the game?
AK, LFC


…If Sara, the prison officer, is real and serious she seems to have to have got her logic a bit twisted.
1) She is comfortable with being booed by prisoners, a bit like Maguire being booed by opposing fans. How comfortable would she be if those on her own side (the general public?) booed, a bit like Maguire being booed by his own side’s fans?
2) As to expecting to be booed if you don’t do your (well-paid) job well. It seems to be more or less universally acknowledged that Maguire has played well for England, including on Tuesday night. So how does doing his (well-paid!) job well still justify the booing? Booing Maguire this season may be a privilege reserved for Man Utd fans.
That said, of course, it’s much ado about nothing and most unlikely to bother Maguire, who will have his own explanation: they’re morons who support rival clubs!
JODO

Marcus Rashford in action for Man Utd.

Marcus Rashford in action for Man Utd.

 

Regarding Rashy
I think everyone gets too muddled up with the curious case of Marcus Rashford with his multiple achievements interspersed with his decline in form. Lets get this straight, Rashford is an amazing human being and should be applauded at every stage. He has every right to write a book, donate money, campaign for charity or do whatever he wants with his free time like go to a club, make stupid tick toks, start a fashion line etc etc. So all fans need to stop with that boring narrative of “He should focus on his football” because OBVIOUSLY he is trying his level best at it, and due to either mental or physical concerns, isnt at his best. Which brings me to….

Rashford currently is 1 step above peak Welbeck at United. On current form he should be nowhere near the first team, and should be loaned out or sold to a foreign league. There is no doubt about that. Considering United want to be a top 10 club in the world, they need to have a top 10 attacking player leading their front line. Marcus currently does not enter the top 50 attacking players in the world by a distance, and United keeping him is pure nostalgia and marketing. If he is happy to be a squad player, lovely, keep him at 150k or below wages and let him force his way into the first team. But if you are asking for 250k+ wages and a place in the XI, then Marcus has to find a new level or leave.

I wish him the best either ways, and hope he has the most amazing career. I have supported the lad since he came on the scene, and will do so long after he retires. He is an admirable human and has the quality to be a top player. But United need solutions NOW and cannot afford to take another gamble. If a 37 year old Ronaldo and a 19 year old Elanga are playing better than you, its time to figure some things out.

Regards,
Aman

 

Grab a cuppa first

I have to feel bad for Maguire, Rashford et al and how they must have to cope with the circus that is the English media and fans.

Manchester United are still England’s biggest club. They were during Liverpool’s hayday in the 80’s. They were during their own hayday in the 90’s, they still were during the rise of Abramovich’s Chelsea and still are, in the world of Peps City.

This is not to say that they have a better team than any of the teams above, that they have better infrastructure, nor does it mean they have been more successful over the past decade.

What I mean when I say they are the biggest club, is that they are indeed, by and far the biggest club. They get most of the attention, most of the articles, most of the conversation, most of the clicks and the most give a shits. Even if you hate them, you love to hate them. Even when you think of them as ‘Meh’, they are still top of the ‘Meh’ pile. Even if you hate football, you still know who they are.

You can rightly point out that Man City’s revenue is more or less the same and that they have a more sustainable global football brand, you could argue Liverpool have just as passionate a fan base if not more, This could all be true but it still wouldnt change the scales, at least not for another decade if not more.

Manchester United have become victims of their own success. The success on the field led to more commercial revenue and so the cycle continued until it became purely commercial in its aims. This then caused the team to slip into mediocrity.

I find some folks will point to their demise into mediocrity as the reason for such continuous negative media coverage, but I do not think so. I think it is probably the opposite.
Manchester United’s size and status are still rippling the waters, pulling in clicks, shares, readers and viewers, albeit, for a mostly negative reason these days.

The English media lives off of Manchester United, whether for better or for worse. The media and certain fans need Manchester United in the story space.

Liverpool fans, in part, have had a collective orgasm since Klopp has been appointed, and rightly so with regards to the successes, football on show and players to support. But it also appears that basking in United’s misery has come in unison with the success. Almost like insulting your ex during your wedding speech kind of way.

Chelsea have been the most successful English team of the past decade, yet you would have thought City or Liverpool, listening to the media. Chelsea have had Abramovich as an owner since 2004. His crimes are only now being put into the public view, and yet, there is not much more than a collective shrug.

I have lived in the UAE and have first hand experience with the migrant workers and the horrid conditions they are forced to work and live with. Man City were also caught cheating in order to get where they are, lied in the process and then promised to bury UEFA with lawyers, yet again, nobody truly cared.
And as I just noticed, I guess you can’t spell UEFA without the UAE.

Phil Jones has become a laughing stock and has succumbed to a lot of mental difficulties. Perhaps you could blame United, but most of all you can point to the media and fans. He was used as an entertainment punch bag, the club did not stop it and the media reveled in it, using his misfortune for their fortune.

The Jones treatment is now leaking in Harry Maguires career as people’s consciousness starts to recognise the damage they are doing to Phil- It is time for a new high profile whipping boy.
The media must berate this man because his nickname is ‘slabhead’, he turns slowly and is of course, England’s most expensive defender ever. Last season he was the 3rd highest rated centre back in the Premier League (After Zouma and Cooper, yup)(Whoscored.com).
I can already hear people saying, “That was last season, it’s this season we are pointing out” which I find bull. He was heavily criticised last year for mainly not looking as good as VVD, even when he was performing more consistently.

Someone had mentioned maybe England fans were booing him because they know he is a liability at club level this season. With such genius analysis, I am sure the writer had a look at the English players ratings for the WC qualifiers. Who is in the top 3? Maguire and Shaw. But facts are one thing, opinion and clicks are another. Some of us need targets to scold to feel better about ourselves I guess.

This also affects Mr Rashford. I will not defend his form (I have been baffled by this since the end of last season), but ever since he has helped out his fellow English citizens, he has been admonished by some in the media and fans for his form. He certainly does need to get his head down and focus, but how hard is that to do when you are in this constant circus. He even gets abuse from rival teams, as if his form being down is a bad thing for them, but they only care about their opinion of why.
Leaving is probably the best solution, not because of Manchester’s incompetence or his, but because as a man who does what he does and has done, he will always be a target when things are not going his or their way.
He can retire tomorrow having done more to help those in need in England than probably every Premier League player ever, and yet, for that reason, people wish to chastise him. Kind of sad really.

Wan Bissaka was last season’s second highest rated defender after the not so defensive Cancelo, but AWB can’t cross like Trent, so therefore, he is not a good player, even though the stats say that is not the case.
Last season Trent had 7 assists, 1 error leading to a goal, net 6. AWB had 4 assists, 0 errors, Net 4. 2 goals, not a huge difference but that is not the story being told. Again, not saying he is great or even good this season or as good as Trent, but that the media have forced a false narrative that has now become the Truth.

Look also at Fred, McTomz, Lindelof, Martial…Yes, perhaps they are not consistent or world class, but do they need to be bashed so often and so hard? When Firmino/Zinchenko/Havertz has a shit game does anyone really care or have a 15 min discussion on Sky or an opinion piece by F365?

Then there are players like Paul Pogba, I am not his biggest fan, but respect where respect is due. He is a WC winning champion with a skillset unmatched in the Premiership. Yes, he loves a good brain fart but he is still one of the most uniquely gifted players in the Premier League. Yet, no, he is the sole reason for United’s lack of success for the past 5 years it seems. He will be missed when he is gone.

Finally, Ronaldo. The greatest goalscorer in my generation. A man who has scored more (or close to) career goals than Liverpool’s famous front 3 have in their careers, combined. He has scored over 100 goals in 3 leagues, broken countless records (scored more goals than games during his time at Real Madrid-wtf?!), won more or less everything and he continues to play pretty well and score in the worlds best league and internationally, at 37.
He has done more in his career than most players are even capable of imagining, let alone doing. He makes over 100M per year in revenue through sporting and private operations.
The man should be celebrated as a phenom, yet, every other day is some piece from someone complaining or blaming. The media and fans will even blame him for the negative coverage attached to United, oblivious to the fact that the toxic nature of both is what is actually fueling the fire, and not Ronaldo.
The man is a serial winner, monstrously successful and the media loses its shit when he is upset when he loses, as if the ones out of his shoes, are the ones who know how to best succeed, or act, in them.

The only team who has a similar situation to United is Tottenham, albeit in a diet version. They are perennially Tottenham. The media need them to be Tottenham..entertain us sure, but we will hound you win or lose.

Trying to gain satisfaction through berating others eventually leads to the berating of the self, and this endless feedback loop only feeds into the misery of the consumer, and the pockets of the producer.

So long as United’s owners continue to profit commercially, and the media continue profiting off of any United story, I don’t see change coming anytime soon.

Hopefully the club can get their shit together and have an actual sporting plan in place to succeed. And maybe through doing this, the media and certain fans will start to see things for what they are, and not what they want them to be.
Calvino (Not holding my breath)

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