Sunday, December 4, 2022

Saturday round-up: Manager of the Month – World Cup draw

Morning all, a quick Saturday round-up for you.

Looking at the Premier League fixtures for today, the game that stands out is Leicester’s visit to Old Trafford later this evening. We could very much do with an away win here. I can’t say I’m especially confident but on their day they’re well capable of causing United problems. It’s just that their days seem to be much more infrequent this season and Brendan Rodgers teams have a tendency to be a bit flaky.

Still, I’d take a 4-4 draw with seven red cards, three hamstring injuries (all for Cristiano Ronaldo), and someone slapping the ref because he overdosed on Oscar content all week and the lines between television and real life became too blurred. Elsewhere, if Brentford could take some points off Chelsea that would also be fun, but I’d sacrifice those for a Leicester win.

Speaking of Premier League, while Ronaldo’s completely unremarkable goal against Sp*rs won Goal of the Month when it was scientifically proven that Gabriel Martinelli’s strike against Watford was by the far the pick of the bunch, Mikel Arteta was given the Manager of the Month award. As he did earlier in the season, he included his coaching staff, and this time around a whole host of people who work at London Colney to share in the acceptance of it.

It’s a small thing, but it’s another example of how he tries to keep everybody on board, building the connections which have been more visible in other aspects of our season – the most obvious of which is the one between the players and the fans.

I didn’t watch the draw for the World Cup yesterday, and it’s not just because these kinds of ceremonies are generally intolerable. Years of watching drawn-out Champions League and Europa League draws, where they bring out some kind of ‘legend’ for an incredibly awkward but always meaningless bit of ‘banter’ has left me scarred for life. The fact that I saw people Tweeting that Jermaine Jenas was one of those ‘legends’ made me even happier I didn’t subject myself to it.

Another aspect is that I have no skin in the game, of course. My country is not going to be at the World Cup so I’m not as invested in it as those who are. For those nations who have qualified, it’s exciting to see who you’re going to play and when. It’s the issue of where that looms over all this though. In which newly constructed stadium will these matches take place? How many people died building this one? How many people died to put in the place the infrastructure to host this tournament?

Estimates put the figure at around 6,500 deaths – most of which have never been properly investigated by the Qatari state. 6,500 people who leave behind family and friends so we can watch a football tournament to which advertisers and sponsors will attach themselves and give it that veneer of showbiz and respectability.

I find myself very conflicted about this World Cup, because I really love the World Cup. It’s at the very foundation of my love of football. But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? That’s how things like this work. They take the things we love and corrupt them because they know our lifelong affection for them puts us in a difficult place. Why should we deny ourselves that thing? We didn’t do anything wrong specifically, unless you consider silence or acceptance as being complicit? Even then it’s not that simple, and it’s not just about football or the World Cup or even sport.

It’s the world we live in, where those with wealth and power view the ‘common man’ – if you’ll pardon the phrase – as commodities. We are natural resources for them. They relentlessly extract their wealth from us, but it goes beyond taking cold, hard cash in all the ways they do that. When it comes right down to it, they will use people like worker ants and if some die along the way, they’ll just get some more. There’s an endless supply. If people ask difficult questions, we’ll be told that we need to educate ourselves better even though we can see fine well what has been happening.

The worst aspect of this is the idea that because the focus is on Qatar that it’s unique to Qatar. This kind of corruption is everywhere, facilitated by Western governments who are just as shady, who view their own people in exactly the same way. They might just be a bit more subtle about it. Sometimes.

FIFA – a shining beacon of corruption and sports-washing – is run by a Gianni Infantino, a European man who cosies up to Vladimir Putin then goes on stage to cry crocodile tears about war and how we need people in important positions to stop conflicts for the sake of the children. Nauseating hypocrisy, and yet … here we are. World Cup 2022. The World 2022.

Ugh. I’ve triggered myself a bit here this morning. Gonna go hug my dogs.

Till tomorrow.