By Tony Attwood
Here is a very simple contrast. Statues of men who made their money out of the slave trade many many years ago are being pulled down.
But football playing nations are continuing to work towards a world cup in which the stadia are still being built by men who are effectively slaves. Indeed as the Guardian has recently pointed out, “only this week Amnesty revealed migrant workers had gone unpaid by a private Qatari company for up to seven months while building Al Bayt Stadium, unable to leave the job, unable to leave the country.”
I suspect that everyone who takes any interest in world affairs will know this is going on. If you don’t there are multiple websites and multiple organisations with a high level of credibility, revealing what is happening. Qatar is not hiding the situation; their arrogance reveals how secure they feel.
Yet in the near future many players, including some Arsenal players, will travel to Qatar to play in the world cup, our TV stations will pay money to secure the rights to show matches, and there will be much nationalistic support for individual countries and for the process as a whole.
How can it be that people who support activities in relation to the removal of statues of slavers, will not raise a finger to complain about the way money is being given to a) Qatar, a country that allows slavery to continue and b) Fifa, an organisation that is under wholesale attack in other countries because of its corruption?
Why is it that people who agree that slavery is wrong (whether or not they support the demolition of monuments to those who were associated with slavery in the past) will not raise a finger to protest that vast amounts of British tax payers’ money is being spent in supporting a corruption based organisation (Fifa) and a country that accepts slavery today?
In taking England into the Qatar world cup, the FA is a supporter of slavery. So why are their no demonstrations against the FA? At the very least why are football supporters who are against slavery not demanding that public money should no longer be given to the FA?
And what about the issue of the players who are taking the knee to protest about the rights of everyone, getting worked up about the issue of playing in Qatar in a couple of years?
And why are the British press not the slightest bit interested in the latest Fifa scandal? One might have thought that they would be a trifle embarrassed that they missed out on forecasting the US arrests of Fifa executives, the last time that Switzerland (as the host of Fifa’s HQ) started to get a bit worked up about the implications of having such a corrupt organisation within its borders. Are they going to let that happen again?
Way, way back on 22 January 2015 little Untold Arsenal, a blog with no private funding or backing from any larger organisation, ran the article Switzerland take a greater interest in Fifa – at last pointing out that Fifa’s own anti-corruption adviser Mark Pieth had made the point that Switzerland had become “pirate’s harbour” and urged the country to clean up its act in order for Fifa and the IOC to clean up theirs. In an urgent attempt to whitewash itself the IOC said that it “fully supports and welcomes this important move by Swiss lawmakers – it is in line with what the IOC already does.”
No other British media that I know of, followed our lead. But we were right and in May 2015 the FBI moved into Fifa’s HQ in Switzerland, and the national press in England were taken completely by surprise.
And as we showed, Switzerland did just what we predicted, and was thus able to look at “any strange movement” in bank accounts and financial assets held in Switzerland. The article added, “Since developments over the bidding for the Russia and Qatar world cups contained nothing but the strange movement of money, we can expect some activity – if the Swiss carry out what the law is designed to do.”
Now we are reporting again that anti-coruuption activity is building, as on 8 June this year we ran the piece “Huge corruption story breaks, no reports in English media”.
The only conclusion that can be reached is that while some of the British media will take a positive stand in terms of supporting the notion that black lives matter, they will not take a stand against the way in Qatar treats its migrant workers because the people they bend the knee to, are Fifa. Indeed judging by the response of the media they might as well run the headline
Migrant workers’ rights don’t matter
There is one honourable exception – although even here I think the newspaper in question could make more of its stance, not least by refusing to have anything to do with the FA and Fifa, and by reporting the current actions being taken against Fifa in Switzerland, and the way the FA pours money into FA.
That is the Guardian who have said in an article…
“It is worth noting Qatar introduced laws last year to diminish and, it is claimed, abolish the Kafala system, under which foreign workers are essentially tied to their employer, unable to seek another job in the country and often too dependent to leave. These new laws have been described as superficial. Only this week Amnesty revealed migrant workers had gone unpaid by a private Qatari company for up to seven months while building Al Bayt Stadium, unable to leave the job, unable to leave the country.”
Football speaks fine words while preparing to bask in these glorious migrant-built structures, disposable monuments to a four-week show of power.”
But the first question now is what will the Guardian do about the World Cup, or indeed the current court cases involving Fifa in Switzerland?
The article continues by noting the current issue is one involving “the oddity of football’s apparent powerlessness as [football] asks itself what it can possibly do about oppression and prejudice as it speaks fine words – cheers, Gianni – about the imbalance of power. All the while preparing to shoot off en masse and bask in these glorious migrant-built structures, disposable monuments to a four-week show of power.”
Yes indeed. That is the point.
The Guardian, in common with the rest of the British newspaper industry, ignored Untold’s warning piece about the law change in Switzerland, and so like the rest of the British media, were utterly taken by surprise.
So having missed out last time around, maybe they and other media outlets would like to note that there is now another revolution going on in which the powerful in Fifa who will gain substantially from the Qatar world cup are under attack once more in Switzerland. And maybe, just maybe, that attack will result in the west with all its wonderful ideals about black lives mattering, will acknowledge that the lives of migrant workers in Qatar also matter. And that going and playing a world cup under the auspices of an utterly corrupt organisation such as Fifa, in a country such as Qatar which has no human rights, is far, far, far worse than having a statue in the middle of one’s town that celebrates someone who made his money out of slavery.
Celebrating a past slave trader is bad, in my view. But colluding with contemporary human rights deniers is far far worse, and every media outlet that reports on the Qatar world cup without pointing this out, is very much supporting slavery.
I’ve been making the point for a while. It is time to make more of a fuss.
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