By Tony Attwood
The argument is being put that the western democracies are in no position to critise Qatar or Infantino because, as Infantino suggested, Europe should start by apologizing for its behaviour over the course of the last 3,000 years before giving lessons to anyone else.
Put another way, the west was anti-democratic, anti-women, and religiously fanatical for centuries, so how dare it criticse Qatar for being anti-democratic, anti-women and religiously fanatical?
Here’s another approach: “Western companies that earn millions on Qatari soil have never asked for improvements in workers’ rights, so as not to threaten their own profitability.”
And another point…
“In Switzerland, when Credit Suisse was saved by Qatar, who was moved? Nobody. The bank received a capital injection of 6 billion francs from the Qatari sovereign wealth fund in 2011…”
Or try considering the fact that western countries have been upping the level of gas that they buy from Qatar in order to replace the gas they can’t get from Russia. Did anyone raise the issue of human rights then?
One more: “Qatar is also one of the biggest customers of French arms sales: what have the valiant French boycotters of the World Cup to say about this?”
Or put another way, as outlined by an editorial in The Economist : “These criticisms are tinged with blind prejudice.”
And there is a lot in all this. But the argument suddenly falls to bits when it reaches its conclusion that “criticizing others has become our national sport in the West…. So, instead of questioning ourselves about our own practices… we denounce and value ourselves cheaply.”
All of which would probably make a good argument if it were not for one thing. The world cup in Qatar is not what we are complaining about. Untold, for example, has been highlighting the enormity of the Infantino problem and the enormity of the Fifa problem for several years.
The bidding for the world cup which led to the finals being given to Qatar was clearly flawed and corrupt. The corruption of Infantino has been exposed through his behaviour in leaving Switzerland while being questioned on very serious matters of corrupt meetings with the head of the Swiss judicial system.
Disliking and distrusting Infantino and Fifa is, on the basis of the evidence around, a perfectly reasonable stance to take, and to dress it all up as if we are just against having a world cup in Qatar is a typical, but still rather clever, diversionary tactic. Rather like Infantino’s long and rambling speech.
The fact is that issues in Qatar are part of the problem with Fifa. It doesn’t matter whether we in the west “are totally illegitimate to lecture the rest of the world.” What does matter is if we see corruption in high office and just ignore it – and leaving Infantino in charge of Fifa is doing just that.
As the article says, “all states, including the West, have always acted according to their interests.” But Fifa is not a state. Fifa is an organisation that the Football Association in England supports financially. And Fifa is clearly a corrupt and untrustworthy organization.
As a taxpayer of the United Kingdom I do not want a fraction of a farthing of the money I give to the state every month in taxation, spent on Qatar, or Fifa. Of course, I am one voice, and the issue of spending tax payers’ money supporting Fifa via the FA is never a defining point in any political party’s manifesto.
And because of that all I can do is make my point here.
Ram Etwaree said on his Facebook page, “Infantino held up a mirror to us. And we refuse to see our true face.” A clever image but it has little to do with reality. Fifa is a corrupt organisation, and Infantino is under investigation for being a crook. I would personally prefer it if the government of my country did not keep funding the FA while it in turn keeps giving some of the taxpayers’ money it gets, to Fifa, run by Infantino. And that is the point.