The feelings and opinions that I have been experiencing for the past four weeks since the beginning of the Qatar World Cup have been swirling around in my mind. You may think that I am biased, but I assure you that judgments do not usually keep me awake at night.
The World Cup is a highly prestigious soccer tournament that takes place every four years and is watched by an estimated four billion soccer fans around the globe or about half of the world’s population. In other words, half of the world lives and breathes soccer. As destiny would have it, Qatar was the country hosting this year. To tell you that it is the best World Cup so far would be an understatement.
In praising this year’s version, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said that Qatar’s World Cup is the best one ever. They have put a ton of effort into this to make sure it is one-of-a-kind, and guess what, they have succeeded. Qatar has exceeded everyone’s expectations from the first minute with a mesmerizing opening ceremony. The latter lasted 30 minutes, but it will be remembered for decades. The ceremony included a number of performances, such as chanting, the use of inflatable mascots, the display of large jerseys, a screen that appeared to be flying, an orchestra from a studio, and costumes. No wonder! Qatar has gone above and beyond to make this a unique and memorable event, investing $200 billion in the process.
Despite all this tireless effort to make sure it is unprecedented, the media is always ready to pop its ugly head, especially the Western media. We all understand it is a business. They generate their revenue through advertising. They try so hard to shape public opinion the way they want the minute they find a scapegoat. Qatar is one they chose this year. Western media repeatedly do reports that tarnish the image of Arab culture and Islam. Personally, I do not remember Western media picking on Russia’s 2018 World Cup the way they are this year. I am sure it has nothing to do with the fact that Qatar is in the Middle East.
It is sad how pathetic media can be sometimes. French media, with its worst history, made some caricatures highlighting people from Qatar as terrorists. Over Morocco’s celebration against Portugal, the German media has compared them to ISIS for pointing their fingers at the sky. I cannot quite recall them comparing Lionel Messi to ISIS given the fact that is how he celebrates the second he scores a goal. It is because Messi is not Muslim. Danish media also featured Moroccans as monkeys. These worthless European media talk about human rights more often, but still, they are the first ones to point their fingers at you if you are not one of their followers. They preach a lot, but they do not practice!
Sports are supposed to bring people together, not the opposite. All teams were there to play and enjoy soccer; there should be no room for politics. FIFA and Qatar made it clear from the very beginning that there are rules in place to follow. Nevertheless, some people just like to break rules to show how strong and different they are. For instance, Qatar welcomed LGBTQ individuals as long as they did not advertise their identity by wearing flags. In Western cultures, it is fine to identify however you choose to. Yet, Qatar is different than the West. They are so big on their culture and religion.
If you choose to visit Qatar for the World Cup, it is expected that you will follow and respect the rules that have been established. It is not acceptable to act rudely just because you have blue eyes and white skin. I am sorry to disappoint you, but nobody cares. This is what happened to the German soccer team, who spent more time protesting and covering their mouths to blame FIFA and Qatar for taking their voices away instead of focusing on playing and trying to win. It is incredibly important to remember that the purpose of the World Cup is to compete and enjoy the game, not to cause trouble or create division. If you invite me to your house, you would be mad if I walk on your favorite carpet with my dirty shoes on. As long as I am on your turf, I have to adhere to your rules, as simple as that. This is how I look at it, my castle, my rules.