Probably the most controversial FIFA World Cup in history, since the first was hold in 1930 in Uruguay, started on November 20th in the small, but wealthy Gulf state of Qatar, which consists largely of desert.
In this constitutional emirate, located on an area of just 11,610 square kilometers, less than 12% of a population of around three million people are Qataris.
As a consequence, although Islam is the undisputed official religion, less than two thirds of the country’s inhabitants, mostly concentrated in the capital city of Doha, are Muslims. Christians and Hindus make up almost 30%.
Qatar, which from 1873 to 1915 had been part of the decaying Ottoman Empire, became a British protectorate in 1916 and gained independence from the vanishing Empire in 1971.
Oil was discovered in 1939, but World War II (1939-1945) delayed its production for a decade. Not surprisingly, this essential resource very quickly substituted traditional pearl fishing.
Found in the early 1970s, natural gas has played an ever-increasing role for the local economy, turning Qatar into the richest country in the Arab world.
The construction of air-conditioned stations and other luxurious facilities for the big party was mainly done by migrant workers from less affluent nations like India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, etc., who supposedly were treated worse than animals like camels.
Then FIFA president Joseph «Sepp» Blatter (born in 1936 in Switzerland) in 2010 granted Qatar the highly disputed right to host this extremely popular sports event.
Ejected from office in late 2015 by his own organization’s Ethics Committee for bribery and money laundering, he only recently called that decision a “mistake”.
Given the general hype in the West about the rights of women and all kinds of minorities, an absolute monarchy under sharia law, where members of the ruling family hold almost all the major ministerial posts, might not have been the best choice.
Nevertheless, his unspeakable successor, fellow Swiss national Gianni Infantino (born in 1970), just rejected all criticism of the hosts. Calling himself in the same breath Qatari, African and gay, he also remembered his own tragic childhood as the redhaired son of Italian immigrants.
Considering that Qatar isn’t situated in Africa and the legal persecution of homosexuals, not to speak of above-mentioned modern slaves, such a statement can only be described as a mockery of real victims.
Regarding the actual tournament, I saw Argentina’s totally unexpected loss against Saudi Arabia with an Argentinian friend and his Taiwanese wife at the Maji Square, a location I would like to recommend.
Besides, I witnessed Germany’s defeat by Japan after its repulsive moral posturing about universal love. The pragmatic Blue Samurai pulled the second big surprise so far and I wish them best of luck!
The fact that it was announced only one day before the opening that there would be no beer sold anyway nearby the stadiums, proves again how trustworthy these figures are…
Anyway, despite being a quite political person, I’m also a big football lover. Therefore, I will still try to enjoy this winter circus with all of its absurdities as much as possible! May the best team win!