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Football should follow Watford’s example and say no to Qatar

As it stands, the sense of excitement (and inevitable disappointment, followed by the likely riot) should be palpable.

If this were a normal year, and if the FIFA renegades had chosen the beautiful game before bastardisation, we would be in the midst of a World Cup festival which would be a welcome fillip, post Covid.

But alas, despite the constant drip-drip of righteousness from the footballing community, the powers-that-be have chosen to have their palms greased in oil as the 2022 World Cup was awarded to that hotbed of international sporting excellence: Qatar.

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At this juncture it is worth casting our minds back to 2010 and the ‘awarding’ of the World Cup, against all logic and common sense, to the oil rich state.

Fourteen of the 22 committee members voted for Qatar despite an internal report deeming the bid to be the only ‘high risk’ option.

Sepp Blatter, the former FIFA president, alongside Michel Platini, were then subsequently cast into the football wilderness for eight years with a suitcase of cash with which to enjoy their enforced downtime.

And so, we have the following situation: Our Premier League players continue to take the knee for a reason that seems to change week on week.

Firstly, it was in protest as to the murder of George Floyd stateside, then they knelt to take a stand (oh, the irony) against racial inequality, before its current reincarnation of ‘to oppose discrimination in all its forms’, whatever that is meant to mean.

Now I am a huge football fan and love the sport, if not the self-righteous, ram-it-down your throat messaging that comes with it in the current era.

Despite that, I believe the England team, the FA and groups of varying description should put their virtuous proclamations where their mouths are and refuse to participate in this ‘winter’s’ World Cup.

Groups such as ‘Women of Watford’ and ‘The Hornets’ were right in calling for Watford’s recent friendly against the Qatar national team to be canceled and, thanks to the pressure issued, it was.

We have footballers fully supporting the LGBTQ community by donning rainbow laces on the one foot, yet, turning a blind eye to Qatari barbarity toward the community on the other.

Initially the regime stated they would introduce ‘medical screening tests’ to ‘detect’ and ‘ban’ homosexuals.

They have now rescinded this diktat and have instead reverted to a possible three years’ imprisonment for anyone who is ‘found to be’ gay, as well as still having the death penalty on the statute books for such a ‘crime’.

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Alongside the initial corruption, there have been ongoing ‘issues’, where, according to Amnesty International, Nepalese workers were ‘treated like cattle’.

Official figures are, understandably, impossible to come by, but it is estimated that 4,000 workers will have died by the time the first ball is kicked.

These modern-day slaves were forced to drink salt water as many were paid a princely 50 pence per hour for putting their lives in serious peril.

The workers worked 12-hour days, seven days a week, in heat of 45 degrees with many having their meager wages held back.

They were forced to sign documents stating they have received these wages in order to get their passports returned and get the hell out of there, starving and skint, but alive to tell the tale.

There should be a public outcry from the football community as a collective, and a refusal of our team, their staff, and the media, to attend or cover the World Cup in any capacity.

Beckham, a former hero of mine, should hang his head in shame as he accepts his reported £150 million payment to be the ‘face of Qatar’, as he wraps himself in his rainbow flag and counts the dirty riches he has chosen, in place of a carefully manicured public persona that has taken decades to construct, but has been desecrated in a heartbeat.

Meanwhile we continue as before: Our boys look down from the moral high ground, Southgate refuses to speak out, as the woker by the day Gary Lineker, remains vocal on ‘easy’ to attack social injustices, but just not this one…

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