thoughts on the World Cup in Qatar

Hi friends, long time no post.

I’m still processing the upcoming World Cup, the direction our beautiful game is headed, high level implications, and … wanted to share some thoughts:

While the idea to ‘boycott’ feels more like a headline than a movement, tension and risks are high to say the least, and i have no idea what will happen.

Will we sweep it under the rug?

Will we see protests like the current climate/art activism? Or

Will this be the breaking point where we collectively wake up, and build new ways to connect meaningfully around the game we love?

The influence countries like Qatar are building in football is nothing short of immense. Dangerous. They’re able to buy … beIN sport… PSG… the World Cup ffs. In addition to doing the worst imaginable — at the expense of human lives. All for some geopolitical gain.

Let this sink in: Financially, ‘this World Cup will cost +$150B, 10x the 2018 in Russia (the previous most expensive), in a country the size of Kosovo with fewer inhabitants than Berlin, with eight ultra-modern, air conditioned stadiums.’ (u/risingsuncoc) that likely won’t be repurposed much. 😦

… I had an incredible experience at my first & only WC in Russia (which at the time was also questioned). I met beautiful people from around the world, experienced new cities and cultures… it changed my relationship to the game! But now I’m worried for it, the passionate fans hoping for lifelong memories. Mega events, sadly, seem to be moving backwards.

Brands, nations, players, fans, what do we do? Operating within parameters of many social, legal, political constructs.

Hummel chose to be ‘invisible’ in their Denmark jersey design to stand against the host nation.

England wearing “OneLove” armbands to protest the country’s policies.

The pressure to make a stance is paralyzing. Not to mention the injuries (even burnout!) being experienced by top athletes who are expected to compete in countless contests week in-and-out leading up to such a milestone event. It’s insane!

David Beckham, among others, career reputation are at risk as an official Ambassador in a sport and culture he made his life around.

France Captain captain Hugo Lloris believes there is “too much pressure” on players to speak out against World Cup hosts Qatar.

Today as a professional in our beautiful game, it’s a platform that’s unfathomable. Legacy as a Legend. An insta-meme. Glory. Failure. It’s overwhelming and dangerous in itself, compounded by the Qatari stage.

I feel for the players, fans, sport and world, but optimistic for a wake up moment. The game needs its passionate fans, and a shift in the ownership dynamic and how we engage with the game we all love is now more important than ever. 🙏🌍⚽️💙

To quote Arrigo Sacchi “Football is the most important of the least important things in life.”

Additional perspectives:

The World’s Largest Lesson, by Kasper Hjulmand – Denmark National Football Team (published Nov 16, 2022 on The Players Tribune)

Accredited Danish Journalist for TV2, Rasmus Tantholdt, was interrupted by Qatar authorities during a live transmission about the tournament and told that if they didn’t stop filming, their camera would be destroyed.

Similar, occurring shortly thereafter with American Journalist Grant Wahl, upon taking a photo of the World Cup slogan while at the media center. Bizarre.


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