The Men’s Football World Cup kicks off today in Qatar, starting one of the most controversial tournaments in history. As a football fan, the build-up to a major tournament is normally one of excitement, sweepstakes and pinning up a wall chart to follow the progress of the teams. The feeling this year is certainly very different.
Since the tournament was awarded to Qatar back in 2010, the issues that surround this World Cup have been well documented. This includes the death of migrant workers that have built the stadiums, Qatar’s human rights record against the LGBTQ+ community, the alleged corruption in how they won the bid and the environmental impact of the tournament.
Football currently is trying to promote itself as a game welcoming for all, but after a World Cup in Russia last time and now in Qatar, it certainly has not been a welcoming place for fans from the LGBTQ+ community. This has also led me to question more about my support from home.
I have to admit, last time when the tournament was in Russia, I did watch the tournament, but it was more of a welcome distraction following major heart surgery. This time, I will not be watching the tournament.
This does not mean that I am not praying that England does well in the tournament. The current England team have shown their commitment to a more inclusive world through their actions over the last few years. It is not their choice as to where the World Cup is held and it is unfair to punish them for decisions taken by the FIFA committee.
I have been thinking about how to get my football fix during the next few weeks. This is the perfect chance to head along to your local non-league, women’s or LGBTQ+ inclusive side to show your support for the game. Let’s strip away the money in football this winter and get back to the grassroots of football and remember why we love the beautiful game.