Mails: Qatar 2022 World Cup – boycott or not?

Daniel Storey

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A good mail on FC United of Manchester
So back in 2005 the Glazers arrived at Old Trafford and a section of us left to go and form FC United. At this time my father and I took the decision to do this and for the next few seasons we went home and away, uphill and down dale (Rochdale in the FA cup to be precise) at this time FC was fresh, exciting, idealistic and quite honestly just a great laugh. For my dad it meant for the first time in a decade he was able to take his lad to the games, I was at this stage a poor uni student who’d hop on the 83 down to Northenden on a hungover Saturday morning, help my dad press some trousers (he is a dry cleaner) then in return he’d sort me some beer money and take me and my mate to the game or if he wanted a drink make me drive. In those day we’d have what I can honestly describe now as some of the best times of my life following a team the press loved to dub as “the rebels”.

Fast forward to 2011 and I decided to go to China for a year and then again in late 2013 I came back to China permanently because quite frankly I can’t afford to live a life in England the way I can here on a teacher’s salary. During this time I must be honest it’s become a lot easier to watch the “big” United on tv and I honestly don’t follow FC like I should, however my dad still goes with the same mate of mine from all those years ago and it is still a huge part of his life.

So finally I get to the present day (sorry for droning on) I read an article on the Guardian website yesterday which a Geordie friend of mine took great glee in sending me (we can be proper b*stards to each other at times), this article portrays a situation at boardroom level which I can best be described as carnage bordering on civil war. I asked my dad about this last night and he’s p*ssed off. Quite rightly so I think, the club who for a few season he washed the kits for, the club he donated money to help build a ground for and spent Saturdays for the last 10 years backing from the stands in all weather have been publicly embarrassed in a national newspaper. Putting aside fact the Guardian half reported the story by not seeking to interview board leaders such Andy Walsh and Adam Brown it has been a worrying few months, emails have been sent by the board alleging bullying by members of the club from others on forums and death threats from people they’ve employed to look into this, sections of fans openly attacked BT sport for moving an FA cup game with banners and chants all the way through the game and the board have released a code of conduct for fans which rightly or wrongly depending on your view has led to accusations over interference.

Personally I am obviously quite detached from all this now but I really do hope people in both leadership and opposition can put things to one side and put the club first. In my opinion FC United was born to provide an affordable, fun and community led football club for the people of Greater Manchester. Unfortunately at the moment it seems infighting and politics is taking the fun side away. I hope for the less political people like my dad, FC United’s board members and opponents can sort themselves out and put their membership before petty self-interest.
Rob, Guangzhou


Newsflash: it isn’t just Qatar
I am getting déjà vu, I am sure he has brought this up and I am sure I have replied before… Toby S brings up some very valid points this morning regarding Human Rights abuses in Qatar and that he will not watch the 2022 World Cup. I applaud his stance and I feel he is right when he says that is the only way things will change.

However, I think Toby is choosing to wear his blinkers in this regard. Does he believe that only the World Cup stadia are built this way, and that every other development in the country is built with the highest standards, or does he think that the stadia are being built according to a system that is well established? Thus surely boycotting the World Cup is not enough but one should boycott the country of Qatar and all who profit from it, such as Barcelona and PSG.

Additionally, I am sure Toby will have a quiet summer this summer as I am sure the decades long ill-treatment of Algerian immigrants by the French government means he cannot morally support Euro 2016 or UEFA either.

I am all for people taking a stand and drawing a line in the sand, but grand standing and shouting about principles that are only applied when it suits you really gets my back up.
Brandon, LFC


Supporting a boycott, must players must too
I totally agree with Toby S and have been on at my mates for a while about this.

I am a huge footy fan, I long for weekends just so I can spend all day watching it down the pub and I spend any spare minute at work and lunch on the many brilliant football sites to help me pass the long day. But If and when the Qatar WC does kick off, I will be boycotting everything to do with it. I will boycott the TV games obviously, papers too! But as hard as it may be, I will also boycott any football websites that publishes anything about the WC (so pretty much every footy website and even F365, but don’t worry, I will be back and I will miss you for that month).

But to really make a difference, we need to somehow get the players/staff to boycott it. I have no clue how we go about this, but surely if players start to publically rule themselves out of the tournament due to the gross neglect of basic human rights to the people who made this all possible, then fans and others will take notice and maybe follow.

I’m pretty sure this won’t happen as they may be repercussions for those players that do boycott, and very much like the fact we don’t have many gay players coming out due to fear of ridicule, this may also play on players minds too so they will not want to taking any risks by speaking their mind and retain the sheep mentality unless everyone else in football starts to say the same.

But as human beings, there is an conscience awakening happening amongst us all with all the corruption in the world and we are starting to realise that if we all bunch together, we can make a change (Harrods due to being the last store to sell fur. Liverpool fans with their walkout. Trump’s racist and brain-dead supporters), so maybe if us, the fans are making enough noise with help from footballers around the world, we may see the World’s greatest sporting event take notice and make the future safer for people who are abused by massive corporations and have no voice or place to turn.

But I just know that the WC will go ahead and people’s lives won’t matter jot when Messi (34 but still going) et al are entertaining us simple folk with the kicking about of a fake pig’s bladder into a big hole.
Stuart (Nothing to do with the fact I support Scotland and they won’t be at the 2022 WC) Jersey, Spurs


…I could not agree more with Toby S on this matter. I have been talking to my friends for a while now to gauge their thoughts on the matter. I for one will boycott the World Cup in Qatar and a few of my friends are starting the feel the same way. I can’t stand the awful feeling of being eliminated from the World Cup as it is. Never mind this happening on a pitch which is literally a slave grave. The inhumane conditions these poor people are subjected to is disgusting, even more so when you consider the wealth which the nation holds.

There are no excuses for people to be treated like this in any walk of life. Sport is recreational, yes a religion to most of us, tribalism in its purest form but no-one should die for it. It’s just not that important. When I think of the outcries when Ched Evans tried to get back into football (of which I am not giving an opinion). “He is no example to children watching the sport”, “how can we let someone with a criminal record for a violent crime grace the game.” Well it seems to be fine if a governing body is in the wrong – it makes me sick that ALL the governing bodies, The FA, UEFA, FIFA, are just looking away from what is happening.

But let’s be honest – I will be in a very small minority and it will make no difference what so ever. The only waves that will be made are either from fans boycotting the sponsors or a very brave country boycotting the games. Think what would happen if Brazil, Germany or England say enough is enough. We don’t want our gold star stained with the blood of the oppressed. But again – this won’t happen. It’s a sad sad predicament.
Darren (stepping down from his high horse) Manchester


Qatar and Brexit
Reading Toby S email this morning about Qatar and its utterly disgraceful way it has gone about organising and building its world cup from the start does make me want to not watch it, sign a petition to say our teams shouldn’t play over there maybe even stand up go outside and protest with a sign. The conditions these poor men have had to face for no reason other than to make money to help pay for their families back in their home countries is horrible.

But if we are to do this now, after what has been scarified by these poor men already, would be even worse to them and to the countries population who I imagine are looking forward to the world cup in their back gardens. What needs to happen is FIFA need to get up of their ass’s and start correcting their wrongs. FIFA need to go to Qatar face the music (of awarding them the World Cup in an obvious fix). Start punishing the people causing this and implement regulations that countries must abide by in order to host tournaments. If not then maybe it needs to go as high as the UN to start kicking shit up there (do they have power to do that? I don’t know)

Also in other political footballing news apparently if Brexit get their own way then their will be some illegal players in the PL, Champions League and Scottish League who won’t be allowed to play. Poor Payet might have to fly home which would be a huge lose to the PL entertainment value. I had no idea this was a thing, does anyone have any more information on this? Or could F365 do some digging for the truth about how Brexit could affect our game?

Some say it will help develop our British players but wouldn’t it just make our leagues boring? Would this make it harder for our teams to purchase top quality players from Europe? Would this mean the English standard would drop in Europe again (Champions League)?
Stoky Boy


And why a boycott isn’t the answer
Interesting mail by Toby S this morning. I agree with him to an extent: the fault is with the average football fan’s general apathy. Our reluctance to discuss issues surrounding the game has fostered a climate where our governing body can indulge in human rights abuses that would make some dictators blush.

Nevertheless, I must decline the invitation to join a boycott of the 2022 World Cup. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to take this stance without being accused of hypocrisy. “Don’t like the systematic enslavement of people hoping for a better future? Don’t watch men kicking a ball around then.”

However, there’s two reasons a boycott doesn’t seem like the best response to this problem. Firstly, it is the average football fan who time and time again seems to take the fall for any negatives associated with the game. This bittersweet relationship with the game will be evident for any fan: those who are instructed by a non-fan to defend Ashley Young for performing his interpretative dances in the penalty area. Or maybe those made to feel guilty for enjoying Leicester’s fairy-tale season because of Prince Vardy’s summer horribleness.

Fans have to be able to disassociate a love of the game of football from the multiple problems surrounding it- something that is becoming increasingly difficult in the modern game.

Secondly, a boycott wouldn’t do anything; simply ignoring that a tournament is taking place will only affect your own summer. In theory it could, but boycotts can only have an effect if a huge amount of people participate and, realistically, this will not happen.

So what options do we have? The recent FIFA exposure has shown that fan pressure can assist in prompting action from authorities. This participation from fans shouldn’t stop because wicked Blatter has been overthrown- FIFA still need to be corralled into taking appropriate measures in Qatar. The first step that Amnesty recommends is that they establish a programme which investigates the companies involved in these human rights abuses. Without widespread fan pressure, the response from FIFA will most likely be vague condemnation rather than this positive action.

Moreover, I’d recommend that fans read the Amnesty report in full, and for them to share it also. Education remains the most salient weapon in the fight against corruption.


You can still like players if they move abroad
Is Daniel Storey coming to terms with the serious risk that Lukaku may leave for a continental side in the summer?

Perhaps F365 should authorise some preemptive therapy sessions otherwise we could see embarrassing scenes such as Storey holding on to Lukaku’s leg as he tries to get on the plane, use his column inches to send even more nauseating and unrequited love letters to him or simply cry uncontrollably at the unveiling at his new club.

Maybe the mailbox could help Storey find a new mancrush for the new season before Lukaku realises that Everton are pants.
H, London


The ladder we’ve been waiting for
As everybody seems to be doing Euro 2016 ladders I thought it best to do one for Scotland.

1) Nobody
2) Nobody
3) Nobody
50) They didn’t qualify
Jason (Chorley Gooner)


Where are the leftfield shouts?
Reading the Wales and Republic of Ireland Euro 2016 ladders got me thinking, who are the players further down these lists that have never seemed to get a look in for their national team?

Looking at the Irish ladder as sent in by Cimic (DC12), Dublin this morning made me think of an Irish man that will be leading his club out in Wembley this weekend, having scored 10 goals and assisting 15 times from centre midfield for his club this season. Roy Keane has also bought this player while managing at both Sunderland and Ipswich, which makes it difficult to think that he has completely fallen under the radar. As well as this, he has managed 14 caps for the u19’s and 8 caps for the u21’s, but at 25 is yet to even make a provisional squad for the senior setup. The player in question is Barnsley captain, Conor Hourihane. Considering the lack of goal scoring midfielders available to the Republic of Ireland, I can’t understand how Hourihane is yet to be given the chance to prove himself at this level. I understand that not many League One players have been selected by O’Neill, but surely an in form League One player would take preference over a Championship player struggling for game time?

I would be very interested to know if any other F365 readers think the same of players that constantly seem to be overlooked by their country, for one reason or another?
Eoin, Cork


This Everton fan is really not happy about the Martinez criticism
Some quotes taken from around F365 this week:

– john stones has all summer to find a club managed by someone with one iota of defensive know how.
Chris Bridgeman, Kingston upon Thames

– Stones would be better placed to learn how to defend. Apparently Martinez only knowing how to attack is the problem.
HongKong Phooey

– The job of the flair players in a Martinez team is to provide flair, after all you just have to outscore an opponent to win the match.
Shehzad Ghias, mufc, Karachi

– At this point it seems like it is too much of a risk to rely on Stones as a centre back option, and the blame for this rests squarely on Martinez’s shoulders
Matt, Arsenal fan

– An on form Stones would make England a much better international football team. We need him to be as good as he can be but unfortunately at club level he’s coached by Roberto Martinez who’s more interested in winning games than defending well to help you win games, or something.
Heston LFC

Quite the narrative we’ve got going here. Is it worth pointing out that we have the 2nd best defensive record away from home in the league? Or that we reached the FA semi without conceding a goal? Is everything judged on home goals conceded now? Seems a pretty strange barometer, considering overall we have conceded the same number of goals as Chelsea and just one more than Liverpool this season (outscoring both). Sure the results haven’t been good, but those quotes above aren’t worried about Everton’s league position, just Stones’ development, which is going fine.

He’s having a relatively poor year, like Raheem Sterling (for some reason the complaint there seems to be that he shouldn’t have left? Whereas Stones as we all know should have been at Chelsea, conceding the same number of goals and getting knocked out the cup at Goodison ).

Barkley and Lukaku both had underwhelming seasons last time out, but have both come back strong this. It happens, it’s not the end of the world and its not because his club manager ‘doesn’t know how to defend’, however sweetly that fits the popular opinion of the day.
Rick Jones


In fairness, Mata’s blog is boring
When someone mentions something good a footballer has done in an article, like Bellamy’s charity work, Drogba’s peace making, or Juan Mata’s blog and lovely smile, why does nobody write in telling us that this is boring or not relevant?

When a footballer assaults his partner or uses racist language, people say that it is ‘unfortunate’. Has anybody ever said that George Weah’s work as a peace ambassador is ‘lucky’? I mean we all make mistakes, like using a racial slur, or throttling your girlfriend, or brokering peace talks in Liberia.

At what point is a line drawn? If a footballer had committed murder would you still sing his name? “But Vardy hasn’t killed anybody, that is different!” whines the strawman. Ah okay, so there is a point at which off field behavior impinges on your ability to enjoy watching someone play football, but racism and domestic violence are below that threshold. Good to know.
Jamie R, Dublin (Happy Friday)


Right of reply
Thank you to Conor for articulating what I meant by the word “boring” in regards to F365’s consistent judgement of Vardy.

It detracts from the football writing when you continually say “…no matter what you think of the man” etc before/after every mention of him, and moreover I read this site most days so I know exactly what you think of him and therefore don’t need to be reminded.

There’s a feeling that you’re choosing to care about things like that more than the football itself, which in one of the most exciting seasons on record just strikes me as odd. Now that isn’t to dismiss the racism: Did Vardy say a racist thing? Yes. Has the mainstream media dismissed this because of the great season his Leicester team are having? Probably. Do I care about this? Erm…not that much, no. (Not) Sorry.

I generally like the tone of F365 and indeed I agree with much of your take on both football and the people in it. However – and don’t take this as me doing a “you PC brigade with your bleeding hearts etc” cos that ain’t it – I don’t like the tone you’ve taken towards complaints about the must-state-Vardy-view tendency: It has implied that those complaining aren’t caring about the right things. Well, I do care…but I don’t come to F365 for that.

If I want to read online football journalists continually flexing their left wing credentials, I’ll just follow them on Twitter.
Stu, London
(MC – It must be said that F365 do also focus on Vardy’s goalscoring exploits, and congratulate him for those. He has been a regular presence in Winners and Losers, for example. It’s just that we feel it necessary to separate out the achievement and behaviour, as Nick did. We understand that not every reader will agree with this, and it will annoy others, but that’s life and that’s fine. It’s impossible to please everyone, which is why sites get accused of bias against/for every club under the sun at some point. Importantly, we aren’t doing this to be controversial (despite frequent accusations) or raise anger, but because it is what we think. Anyway, we don’t want to fight. We love you all. As long as you’re nice to people. xx)


But this is literally the worst argument of all
Nick Miller is a Notts Forest fan. It must be hard for him to sit and watch Leicester’s great season when his own team is so p*ss poor. His article was born out of frustration, we should pity him.
Simon Eaton