My memories of the World Cup are broad and (mostly) happy. I’ve been watching the tournament since 1986, shortly after I started supporting Everton. 1990 was incredible, losing to Argentina in 98 was devastating; the disappointments of England performances in World Cups since then, apart from the last one where some pride was restored. It’s my favourite sporting event (despite England’s record) and one which I’m desperately sad to be missing out on this time.

It won’t make any difference to any players or football organisations that I’m taking the stance to not watch any games, but it matters deeply to me and to many other LGBTQ+ fans. I’m not going to summarise the situation in Qatar because, unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ll know about the human rights record of that country and how they treat LGBTQ+ people, migrant workers and women. And I won’t go into the corruption that brought the World Cup there, enabled by the aberration that is FIFA. We all know what their game is and it aint anything to do with football.

I’m much more interested in talking about what can be done by people who do appear to care, namely the players, the clubs, the British FAs and we fans. There are some in all of these groups that may not care; call me naive but I think most do. And it’s about time they all really made a stand and made a difference.

For example, Harry Kane and Gareth Bale should have worn the One Love armbands and taken the yellow cards. Both teams should have worn rainbow laces. The English and Welsh FAs should have threatened to pull their teams out of the tournament and demanded that FIFA outline a programme for levelling up on equality.

Clubs should be making regular, open statements about how they will support any player who wants to come out and how people who are found to be using homophobic and transphobic language at games are banned from attending for at least a season, maybe longer. We fans can call out people for making such comments, may be one or two of us can call out some footballers too (Joe Lycett, that was incredible – he is a Baggie if you weren’t aware). These may be pie-in-the-sky suggestions, but in my humble opinion, they were/are totally necessary and achievable ones.

The reason I say this is because being LGBTQ+ and being a football fan is really not easy. I’m not after any sympathy as such, I’m just saying it like it is for many LGBTQ+ fans like me. As a gay man, for me it’s not so much the laddish culture or the overt masculinity, or even some of the homophobic comments (of course these are not right). It’s the lack representation in the game. I don’t feel I fit into the culture of the game I love. This could all change if just one Premier League player came out. Why haven’t they, though?

When Jake Daniels came out, the response was overwhelmingly positive and I really thought that was a watershed moment. But not one other player has come out since. I’d be really interested to hear people’s take on why this is. Is it because the clubs are passively discouraging it so the value of their players/brand of their clubs are not diminished? Is it because the players fear potential abuse from the stands or the reaction from other players/coaches/managers? Is it because they fear losing their lucrative sponsorship deals? I really thought we were getting to a place where none of this would be such a barrier, but clearly some, if not all of this, must be.

A number of recent surveys have concluded that the number of people from GenZ (now in their late teens and early twenties) who identify as 100% straight is just above half of all those surveyed. Nearly 50% identify as non-straight. Even if football ‘attracts’ many more straight people than gay, there must still be a significant number of top flight footballers who are not 100% straight. So, they are there, they exist, but are all in the closet. Every single one of them. Dozens and dozens of players hiding who they are and going through pain (trust me, they are).

And this brings me back to the World Cup and FIFA. Everything that is going on in Qatar is reinforcing the ‘problems’ with coming out as a top professional footballer. Can you imagine an out player playing for England right now, in this World Cup? It really is time things changed, and changed quickly. I, for one, have had enough of being marginalised. Thank you for taking the time to read this! As I said, I’d be really interested to hear people’s thoughts.

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Peter Carpenter
1 Posted 23/11/2022 at 18:24:18
Good article, Stuart, well put. There's so much wrong with this World Cup. I haven't watched any yet either but I'm feeling the pull after a couple of recent games.

It's a shame no player was brave enough to wear the armband and just take the yellow card. Iran's players made a protest on a different issue but were risking far more than just a card, I guess.

Lyndon Lloyd
2 Posted 23/11/2022 at 18:28:41
Good piece, Stuart and, of course, timely and topical given the controversies around the current World Cup in Qatar, of which, as you point out, we should all be largely aware.

The 1986 World Cup was my first as well, coming just a few months after I started supporting Everton, and — Maradona's “Hand of God” aside — I have deeply romantic and fond memories of that tournament. Likewise for 1990, that year because of England's run to the semi-finals and also because I was in my mid-teens and much more aware of the game.

Admittedly, I barely pay attention to international football outside of the Copa America, the Euros and the World Cup — a) it's mostly dull and b) it interrupts the Premier League season — but I still love the World Cup above all. My anticipation of this year's tournament was dampened significantly by its odd timing, Everton's plight and, again, the broader issues around the host country and the really distasteful circumstances behind it being selected by Fifa.

However, now that the football on the pitch is underway, I'm fully immersed. I can't stand Fifa (I don't like Uefa much more, for what it's worth) and my disgust for the governing bodies is ever present, regardless of the competition. So, I'm not going to allow them — or the state of Qatar — to ruin the game for me. Some, like yourself are boycotting the World Cup, and I fully respect your decision while acknowledging the luxury I have in being able to compartmentalise the sour aspects of it, just as I was four years ago in Putin's Russia. Perhaps, if the shoe were on the other foot (rainbow laces and all 😉), I would feel different but I feel like, as with so much in life, where I can't change the circumstances or location of the World Cup, I may as well enjoy it.

To your broader point, you have my sympathies but I honestly believe it's a dam that will break very soon, at least in places that are more tolerant than Qatar! There were rumours last week that there are two Premier League players in a relationship that is openly known inside their club. I can't imagine that stays quiet for very long; it's bound to come out. And when it does, I hope that it's met with joy in your community but a collective shrug from the public at large because, as you say, there is so much acceptance in almost every other area of life at this point that gay relationships should just be normal.

The statistics you mention about the number of teens identifying as other than 100% straight are, in my opinion, skewed heavily by what has become a bit of a fad/social contagion where gender identity and sexuality is concerned at the moment, spurred on by social media, but even if they aren't accurate and eventually revert closer to the mean (I still think the number will always be higher than before because of people feeling more comfortable being public with how they identify), it can only be a positive in terms of general acceptance and understanding.

Like gay rights elsewhere in society, like women's role in men's football (in terms of media, commentary and punditry), I'm sure that in a few years' time, this won't be nearly as big an issue as it is now. Until then, to answer your questions, I think that fear of ostracisation, of abuse from the stands, of possible sensationalism in the media and a long-established culture of heterosexuality in the dressing room is, indeed, holding players back for now but it will only take a few to come out around the same time to start to either erode or wash all of that away.

James Flynn
3 Posted 23/11/2022 at 18:32:11
What Lyndon said.
Stuart Bellamy
4 Posted 23/11/2022 at 18:57:39
Thanks Peter, Lyndon and James.

It's been such a tough decision not to watch, and I completely get the point to try to compartmentalise the bad stuff and focus purely on the game, which is something I managed to do for Russia despite some serious reservations.

But Qatar is on a whole other level, combined with the pure FIFA-led corruption that got them tornument, it's just too much. I am missing the football a lot but every day there seems to be something to reinforce my feelings, from the confiscation of a rainbow hat on the way into a ground to Infantino's jaw-droppingly horrendous speech ahead of the tournament.

Lyndon - I really hope you're right that we're on the threshold of change in this country, I too heard about the couple at one of the Premier League clubs and it does make you believe it can't be long before someone takes that brave plunge. If they do, I'm convinced things will be very different and the game will be much enhanced as a result.

Dale Self
5 Posted 23/11/2022 at 19:20:34

I had in good faith intended a boycott but ended up catching the Japan - Germany game by accidentally flipping through and it was all over.

I absolutely feel for your situation and do feel a bit compromised by giving in. In my defence, I am reluctant to do away with something that I love due to someone else's association.

I understand that I am partially supporting the indefensible values of some truly depraved despotic regime but their presence and attempted influence is the problem that was delivered by FIFA to this event.

Grey area rationalizations don't really cut it, I know, but at least give me a couple of attempts at giving up international football entirely if Infantino continues his downward spiral to serve his masters.

Stuart Bellamy
6 Posted 23/11/2022 at 19:29:25
Cheers, Dale, I totally understand the reluctance to give it up and how easy it is to get hooked back into it – I have nearly fallen foul of that a couple of times already, but I'm determined to see it through! As you say, if Infantino carries on as he is, all of us may be switching off.
Julian Exshaw
7 Posted 23/11/2022 at 19:45:40
Much respect to you, Stuart, for your most interesting and thought-provoking article.

I find myself agreeing with Dale @5 though. I have been watching this festival of football since 1978 and even though this year is flawed in so many ways, it's still football, the game I love.

I do however feel that the debates off the pitch have placed an unfair burden on the players. Taking part in a World Cup is the pinnacle of their profession and I think there has been far too much pressure placed on them when they just want to play.

They may not express this publicly of course but I'm sure it must be how they feel privately. That doesn't mean they don't care about the issues involved.

Fifa will not come out of this smelling of roses – in fact, they stink – but, at the end of the day, it's a football tournament which in its purest form is supposed to delight, entertain and lift us out of the gloom of winter.

It comes around but once every 4 years after all.

Tony Abrahams
8 Posted 23/11/2022 at 19:59:27
We are just ordinary people – we don't know which way to go. All these governing bodies are corrupt, and every single government has corruption. I said I thought that the Iranian players had put a lot of pressure on themselves by refusing to sing the National Anthem, in protest at the way women are being treated at home, and I don't think they have been applauded enough for their very brave actions.

I'd have thought the first superstar footballer who comes out and tells the world that he his gay will make an absolute fortune in sponsorship deals, Stuart, although I think everything else you write about why players won't come out all makes sense and sadly has a large ring of truth.

Danny O’Neill
9 Posted 23/11/2022 at 20:00:24
Very interesting, honest and open article, Stuart.

I'll come at this from two angles. Part of me respects footballers wanting to use the sport to promote understanding and acceptance of causes and generate tolerance in society. Be that LGBQT+ or the Black Lives Matter knee. Not my thing, but I don't deny anyone or a collective group the right to make their case.

But then part of me wonders if we draw attention to something that isn't as big an issue as we think it is.

I'm not saying ignore intolerance, I just don't always feel comfortable with sport being politicised and hijacked. There are other ways.

I mentioned on another thread, my first World Cup of memory was 1978. In 1982, even though they didn't meet, there was political tremors about the prospect of England and Argentina meeting following the Falklands War. Maradona in the very good documentary admits it was incentive for beating England in the 1986 World Cup.

On a lighter note, I remember it being blasphemy to buy corned beef produced in Argentina. Teenage me, I just thought Maradona was a brilliant player and liked watching him.

I've spoken many times and bored people about my Army background. It's shocking that until 1992, a serving military person potentially faced going to the Military Correction Centre and being discharged for being homosexual. After that and until the very end of 2001, they would just be discharged.

But once this was lifted and the military accepted it, quite a few friends of mine came out openly for the first time. Guess what? No change. We were still friends, colleagues and brothers / sisters in arms. We worked together, played sport together, deployed together and drank together.

My point? If a macho institution like the Army can deal and cope with it, so can football.

I don't care what gender or sexuality a person is. I just care for how well they can do their job.

My only other point, and I've thought carefully about commenting on this. I appreciate the frustration, but having been to some of these countries, Qatar included (believe me, the likes of Afghanistan are far more brutal), we have to accept they are not us. We can't make them adopt our values overnight.

They have values, but they are their values. That's the mistake we've made over the centuries. From the British and French literally drawing lines in the sand creating the shit storm that is the contemporary Middle East to trying to enforce western-style governance on Iraq in recent times. Influence rather than dictate.

Apologies for going a bit deep on that last paragraph, but I speak from experience. I by no means want to sound controversial. Of course we want to promote better understanding globally, but we also have to, sometimes reluctantly accept, that some countries aren't 2022 UK. And despite what the BBC and news would have us believe, I firmly and truly believe we are one of the most tolerant societies on the planet.

Body armour and helmet at the ready for the incoming.

Stuart Bellamy
10 Posted 23/11/2022 at 20:26:30
Thanks Tony, Julian and Danny. By submitting the article, I just wanted to get people talking about this and sharing thoughts and ideas, so I really appreciate all the comments so far.

Julian – it's an interesting point about the pressure on the players, I think my take is that they should have been backed by their FAs to wear the armbands, with open statements saying they disagree with FIFA, they back their players and will appeal any yellow card or other sanctions.

I get they are there to play football but, for me, top players also have some kind of a societal obligation given how much they are in the public eye and the money they get paid.

Tony – totally agree on both points, the Iranian players deserved far more credit for that and the first out Premier League player probably will earn a fortune from it!

Danny - no apologies needed, you make some really interesting points that mirror some of how I feel too. It shouldn't matter and for the vast majority of people in this country, it doesn't, and they won't bat an eyelid if you come out, life goes on the same, and a big deal shouldn't be made out of it (my own coming it out was very much like this).

But for many people around the world that is far from the case, particularly in countries like Qatar. I've seen a lot of comments on social media along the lines of we must respect their rules and governance but, for me, basic human rights is rights for all, wherever they live, whoever they are.

You are completely right that the UK is one of the most tolerant countries in the world, to me it feels like we have a responsibility to try to help those oppressed in countries that are not so tolerant, you're also right that needs to be done in the right way.

Sam Fitzsimmons
11 Posted 23/11/2022 at 21:16:29
Stuart, excellent article and like you I love my football but decided to boycott this world cup, for the reasons you highlight and the systemic corruption in Fifa.
That said, fully understand why others will choose to watch the tournament after all, it is the greatest show on earth and that can be very hard to resist,
Tony Abrahams
12 Posted 23/11/2022 at 21:34:46
Whenever I see the phrase, “it is the greatest show on earth”, I instinctively think about Roger Waters, Sam, so thinking about the world governing body, taking the tournament to Qatar, then it’s obvious that FIFA, have just amused themselves to death!

I’ve just found out that Roger Waters is touring next year, thanks to this thread!

Stuart Bellamy
13 Posted 23/11/2022 at 21:42:52
Thanks Sam!

And glad the thread helped to flag that one Tony!

Jack Convery
14 Posted 23/11/2022 at 23:57:37
Well said Stuart. I too am boycotting the WC. I honestly thought it would be difficult but the more I thought about it the easier it became. It's been impossible to miss the news and headlines. I thought England were gutless when push came to shove. The Iranian footballers have risked everything by not singing their National Anthem - that took real balls. England risked a booking. The Germans did something too. Good on you Stuart for bringing this to the fore on TW. Maybe one day the World will Live as One and not in the entrenched factions of today's world. I live in hope.
Kieran Kinsella
15 Posted 24/11/2022 at 04:45:10

I’d kind of echo Danny. You can’t change a country BUT you could not give that country the World Cup to begin with. Now the die has been caste, I’m watching it because well I’m emotionally invested in football. I’m looking at it with regard to the players involved rather than the hosts. I have utter contempt for the regime there for many reasons. Personally I feel their attempt at sports washing has backfired big time certainly with regard to Europe. Nobody in Europe gave Qatar a second thought before. Now everyone has manifold reasons to dislike their regime after they forced their way into our lives. With that having been said, I know a lot of Brit’s happily living in UAE and Saudi Arabia where things are equally bad or worse in the case of the latter. It frustrates me that Joe Biden called crown Prince Mohamed a pariah now since Ukraine he’s there cap in hand while we still have an embargo on Cuba based on events from 60 years ago and Venezuela because they’re “communist.” The sad fact is that most countries in the world are run by despots and scum bags. Even in Europe, Italy, Hungary, Turkey and even Sweden have fallen into the hands of fascists. While Russia and Belarus have never got past the Stalinist era. It’s a sad state of affairs. Based on morality we are limited to hosting events in half of Europe, the antipodes, Canada and Costa Rica. The problem is the majority of the world live in countries like China where 2 million Uighurs are in concentration camps, Russia ruled by a fascist tyrant, half of Africa ruled by despots etc etc. The hope is that reasonable people with humanity can change the world. But based on history I wouldn’t hold my breath. Sadly.

Christine Foster
16 Posted 24/11/2022 at 08:00:45
Stuart, an honest and deeply felt perspective that's well reasoned out and is hard to argue against. Both Danny and Kieran put a sad reality to your perspective.

I know Danny states the UK is one of the most tolerant countries and societies to be in but it's all about where you sit in that LGBTQ spectrum because there is no doubt that tolerance is being thrown under a bus in many other parts of the world as the Trumpesqe wannabe leaders of right-wing governments continue their vendetta against that community.

When Trump was elected and started his war on the LGBTQ community, he opened the door for the far right in countries to follow suit, galvanizing people with prejudice and fear. The UK has not been immune, the banning of conversion therapy but purposely not banning it for some.

Qatar, should never have been awarded the world cup based purely on its human rights record. They are at odds with the majority of countries competing so frankly just because the location is theirs does not entitle them to force their culture on others. They invite the world that are culturally a million miles away from Qatar. They have no right to expect that their views and laws are maintained.

Fifa bears responsibility.

Ian Hollingworth
17 Posted 24/11/2022 at 08:37:54
Sadly the responsibility for the world cup and all the issues surrounding it lie with FIFA.
The last minute reversals by Qatar and FIFA endorsing them are shameful.
Why would FIFA bow down to Qatar?? hmmm I wonder why.
Sadly what has happened was widely expected as a world cup alone will not change a country like Qatar.
The hypocrisy of it all is also astounding but not a surprise. Gareth Southgate and his England team are always happy to make political stances, some say virtual signalling, but when it was really tested they rolled over.

On the topic of footballers coming out I seriously believe that most people would not give a damn. However at a match for 90 minutes people change and they would receive abuse as its an opportunity to get at the opposition. I am not condoning it just stating that it happens and as an example 'The babies not yours' chant to Stevie G. Players get abused for many things

Sadly individuals boycotting watching the world cup has no impact at all, you are not even paying for them. Only action from the teams or better still the sponsors would have an impact but guess what, money is involved.

Corruption happens due to Money and Power and that's the root of the FIFA problem.
Sadly its going to come closer to home as the European Super League will raise its head again and will happen.

Plus someone like Qatar could end up buying Everton and the vast majority will shrug, mutter disapproval but then be really happy we are a successful winning club again.

Danny O’Neill
18 Posted 24/11/2022 at 09:00:53
I would add the far left to your far right, Christine.

The times I've watched England in my locals here in West London and heard some of the chanting from what is pretty much the English Defence League winds me up.

But then I've also had to misfortune to be ganged up on by that Momentum mob during the first Corbyn election campaign. Nasty bunch of bullies if you don't agree with them. Fortunately, I don't take too well to bullies. I was just trying to have a drink. They pretty much raided the pub and started harassing people. I guess they called it campaigning.

Extremism is extremism, regardless of which end of the spectrum. And we all have them on both, so I agree, we are not exempt. But thankfully we are mostly a moderate and tolerant society that has come a long way. Sadly, large parts of the world aren't and are a long way off.

This has opened up a really good debate, Stuart. I think it's telling that Fifa awarded this World Cup to Qatar and the previous one to Russia. I wonder what they're thinking in the corridors of power in the tax haven of Zurich given the clear public outrage at the overt clamping down on symbols representing LGBQT+ and what's happened in Ukraine both prior to and since 2018.

Probably nothing right now, sat in the comfort of their 7-star hotels in Doha and corporate boxes feeling satisfied with themselves and more importantly, their bank accounts.

Andrew Ellams
19 Posted 24/11/2022 at 09:22:14
Abhorent a regime as they have in Qatar, football can't pretend that previous World Cups have been held in squeaky clean football mad countries.

2018 was in Putin's Russia. 2014 and 2010 in Brazil and South Africa, countries wrecked by corruption, cruelty and poverty.

The 1982 World Cup was awarded to Spain in 1966 when it was still ruled by an anti-semitic fascist dictator.

Even 1966 was held in a country where homosexuality was still illegal and could land you in prison or even lead to chemical castration.

Not forgetting 2026 were the tournament was awarded to a country led by Donald Trump.

Derek Thomas
20 Posted 24/11/2022 at 10:40:59
I know and agree with all the reasons, but I'm not actively boycotting it.

It's just all the reasons add up to why I just can't be arsed with it and non-Everton football... and EFC are trying my patience mightily as well.

Like I said, I can't be arsed, this is just another nail in what used to be proper football's coffin.

Maybe an inevitable super league and/or a financial collapse will be the crematorium that draws a line under everything and lets the mourners get on and get back to their proper footballing lives.

Santosh Benjamin
21 Posted 24/11/2022 at 13:40:20
Dear Stuart,

Thank you. That was a really thought-provoking article.

1986 was my first World Cup – I was 6 at the time and I have been in love with it ever since. While my love for Everton has far exceeded it, the sheer emotion of the World Cup is overwhelming. It unites people and breaks down the same barriers that we are struggling with in our daily lives.

The highs and lows of supporting your country (or another country, if, as in my case your country does not stand the chance of qualifying for the World Cup in your lifetime!) with thousands of others is amazing. There are so many heartwarming stories of humanity and courage overcoming all the negativity that exists.

That said, I made up my mind to boycott the World Cup this time. Believe me, it was a very hard decision and I am still struggling with it and I'm not even sure that I have the willpower to go the distance. To those who know me, this seems unthinkable and I still have family and friends who check that I am really serious.

I honestly hate Fifaand their sleazy, greedy officials. They are doing their best to ruin the game that we all love. I know that my gesture makes no difference to them but I feel like I need to do it.

I live in India and am aware that the attitudes and laws here are different from those in the Western world. I also understand that working conditions for many labourers and migrant workers within my country are also atrocious.

I do also know that people are being made more accountable for their actions, even in India these days. If you want to hold an international event of this magnitude, you need to understand that you will be scrutinized by the world before and during the event.

That is the price that they have to pay, while getting the plaudits and money that goes with hosting the biggest event in the world. I do not know for sure but I suspect that both Russia and Qatar, and possibly many hosts before them, won their bids by illegal means. Are they to blame or just Fifa? I think that both countries should share the blame with Fifa.

Qatar must shoulder additional blame with their approach to migrant workers and the LGBTQ+ community is unacceptable. Their laws and restrictions will take ages to change or even address but surely, allowing people who are attending this event to just express their views is a fundamental right.

As I type this, I am curious about scores of games that go on and I hear from friends, family and my news feeds about upsets and great performances already. Let's just hope that, like many on here have said... the change that we all yearn comes eventually in all parts of the world where racism, hatred, injustice, oppression and other forms of evil seem to prevail unopposed.

Tony Abrahams
22 Posted 24/11/2022 at 14:18:12
Just when you think that football couldn't get any worse with regards to billionaires owning football clubs in this country, it's now being reported that the trillionaires of Apple are considering a bid for Manchester United.

It shows you how far Everton have fallen with me now trying to cry in some rich nation after realising that getting rid of Bill Kenwright just isn't enough now after all those years of constant neglect.

Rob Halligan
23 Posted 24/11/2022 at 14:40:45
If the English and Welsh FAs want their captains to wear the rainbow armband, but are fearful of a yellow card for their captain, then the answer is simple.

Let a player who is very unlikely to play any part in the World Cup, lead the team out wearing the rainbow armband, do the toss and then after about one minute, make a substitution, bringing Kane and Bale on wearing the regulated FIFA armband.

Okay, might be a waste of a substitution but I'm sure it would get the message across, albeit in a very short time. I take it the yellow card would be shown at the time of the toss between the two captains.

Fifa have been taking the piss far too much over this World Cup, so it's time some countries started taking the piss out of Fifa.

John Keating
24 Posted 24/11/2022 at 15:19:20
If the players feel so strong about this issue, why not the whole team wear an armband? Let the whole team get a booking and continue to wear it. Maybe after refusing to remove it after the booking they'll all receive a red.

If the other nations, Germany, Holland, Wales, Denmark et al, feel and do the same then the whole World Cup will come to a grinding halt.

What has happened thus far is a complete joke and a total kowtow to the inept and totally corrupt entity that is Fifa.

Giving in the way the English FA did and telling "Harry" not to get a booking was a disgrace.

Either put up or shut up.

Ian Hollingworth
25 Posted 24/11/2022 at 15:54:54
The footballers and football associations sort of got themselves into this mess by making the political statements instead of concentrating on football only.

When they were tested, they immediately forgot the stances they were trying to take.

If they meant it, then they should have stood by it and taken the punishments and, as John above says, if they all stuck to it, there would have been a real issue for the World Cup.

Ed Prytherch
26 Posted 24/11/2022 at 16:30:03
I am almost boycotting it for the same reasons that I boycotted the last Olympics – corruption.

My semi-boycott is easy at the moment. I am an Englishman of Welsh ancestry who has lived over half of his life in the USA. Group B is the only one that matters.

Roger Helm
27 Posted 24/11/2022 at 17:21:37
So Harry's big protest fell at the first whiff of trouble. I can't say I was surprised. I liked the German protest and more so that by the Iranian players.

I am not so much boycotting it as not being arsed to watch it. I really dislike Qatar and Fifa for all the reasons above, but I have never really been bothered about the England team.

The grotesque amounts of money involved, the daft haircuts and childish goal celebrations, the inane commentators and pundits, the hype and self-absorption of Premier League footballers all leave me cold.

I used to be interested, but recently I think it is really only Everton I like in football, and even watching them these days is a mixed pleasure. Perhaps the atmosphere is better in lower-league football, I don't know.

Iain Johnston
28 Posted 24/11/2022 at 18:48:46
Good article, Stuart. For me there's only one label and one community and we are all inclusive of both.
Phill Thompson
29 Posted 24/11/2022 at 19:02:25
Well written and thought-provoking, Stuart. It can be a difficult choice to make. But perhaps the most effective publicity has come from Laura McAllister, the ex-Wales Women's captain and part of the Wales LBGT Rainbow Wall.

Many of their members have boycotted Qatar, Laura is there as an Ambassador and chose to wear her Rainbow Bucket Hat with the attendant publicity attracted when she was told to take it off. She's an articulate and experienced spokesperson and made her point well. I now see that Qatar have told Fifa they will no longer confiscate or ban Rainbow hats/ flags.

A small victory, but overall it still leaves you thinking why would we even have to consider it a victory in the first place?

Barry Rathbone
30 Posted 24/11/2022 at 19:23:06
I've long realised football is entirely about fantasy it is escapism evoking near religious devotion rational analysis plays no part.

Qatar and its laws are the issue, but the magic of the game transcends such things. Men killing each other with bombs and machine guns downed tools and had a game of togger in the trenches of WW1.

People sympathise with human rights issues, but fantasy is too powerful. None of us should watch, the tournament should not be there, but the allure of the game is too strong.

To separate location and what it represents is an easy thing to do for most… unless you're directly affected.

Mike Gaynes
31 Posted 24/11/2022 at 19:45:25
Thank you for a thoughtful and well-reasoned article, Stuart. One test of an article's merit is the quality of the responses, and the superb posts from Lyndon, Danny, Christine, Tony, Santosh and others serve as a rich endorsement of the ideas and issues you have presented here. I can add little of originality to their replies.

I'm not boycotting, any more than I boycotted the Russian World Cup 4 years ago, but I truly feel that awareness of hate-based societal discrimination -- not just LGBTQ+ but racial and religious as well -- is actually raised by the despicable decisions of Fifa to award the World Cup to countries like this. Would LGBTQ+ issues be so widely discussed right now if the World Cup had been awarded to a more tolerant and deserving nation? Or if the passive protests, like the captain's armbands, had not been so openly repressed?

Speaking for myself, I know a great deal more about international anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry than I did before, simply because the appalling Qatar venue has triggered the discussions. I'd be interested in your thoughts on that.

I'm sitting here watching Brazil and Serbia, two teams proudly representing their nations. One has struggled for hundreds of years with racism and classism, and the other actively collaborated with the Third Reich and remains a hotbed of unabashed nationalistic bigotry.

Many other nations on hand, including yours and mine, have more or less similar historical legacies. And I wonder whether general awareness of those legacies and current issues isn't increased by this kind of worldwide exposure.

Derek Thomas
32 Posted 24/11/2022 at 21:34:17
Rob @ 23 & John @ 24: Exactly; Fifa & Qatar have been / are taking the piss - Teams have to Put up or Shut Up.

If it means getting into a 'who can act / react in a more stupid manner' contest, then so be it.

They started it and there needs to be some serious 'Sticking it to The Man' payback.

...but I'll not hold my breath

Rick Barnes
33 Posted 25/11/2022 at 05:58:56
Hi Stuart - I'm not going to try to change your mind at all, everyone is entitled to their own decisions and I admire your convictions to something you believe in. But given your article is titled 'A Painful Boycott' and you say it's your favourite sporting event and one you're 'desperately sad' to be missing - I can't help but think it's a shame you're missing something you love mate.

If a decent chunk of LGBTQ+ football-loving fans choose to boycott this World Cup, isn't that kinda like letting those that think you have no place in football win? If the 'powers that be' seek to exclude gay fans, banning rainbow armbands and sending a message that 'you don't have a place here' - wouldn't that make you more determined to not let them ostracize you? If a young LGBTQ+ boy or girl was told by some homophobic dickhead that they shouldn't be playing the game, wouldn't you rather them be encouraged to pursue their passion, rather than be persuaded to walk away from it?

Entirely up to you dude, but I would love to see a reply on this thread in a week or two saying that you decided to watch a game with some mates, made your feelings on Qatar's atrocious stance felt, but refused to be pushed away from the game. Because no one should be made to feel like they need to dull their passions. If you love the game, enjoy it.

Anyway, if you feel differently all power to you, maintain your boycott if that's what feels right for you - just wanted to offer a slightly different perspective.

Danny Baily
34 Posted 25/11/2022 at 08:43:31
It's been easier to avoid than I might have thought. Of course, you can't avoid hearing scores and the headlines, but not watching is easy.

Not long before we can get back to proper football. And a big match for the U21s on Wednesday!

Stu Darlington
35 Posted 25/11/2022 at 14:40:20
Andrew @19
Well said,totally agree.
It’s the hypocrisy that gets me.
The media and sanctimonious pundits who are all ringing their hands and shaking their heads at Qatars corruption and human rights record,at the same time pocketing millions for inflicting their wisdom onto the rest of us.Where were they when the UK and the good old USA launched a devastating illegal invasion of Iraq a few years ago?
Millions of non combatants were killed,homes,businesses and infrastructure destroyed all based on a contrived series of lies.I’m sure that a number of human rights were infringed in that little affair!
The real villain of the piece for years has been FIFA and to a certain extent EUFA.Corrupt to the core but the home Associations have continually turned a blind eye.
Until we get that sorted nothing will change
Andy Crooks
36 Posted 25/11/2022 at 19:52:09
Good article, Stuart. I'm not watching the World cup for the reasons you state. Also, I despise FIFA and hate international football.

I really don't miss it which has surprised me. Roll on Boxing Day when we can get something proper to moan about. My mate is Persian but has supported Newcastle for 50 years. The Geordies come first.

Seb Niemand
37 Posted 25/11/2022 at 20:25:14
Thank you for being so virtuous that I don't have to be and for taking this time to broadcast this virtue to all and sundry.
Andy Crooks
38 Posted 25/11/2022 at 22:39:04
Thanks for that Seb, take a bow, you should be proud of yourself. Thanks for taking the time to show how the article,for some reason, irked you.
Steve Shave
39 Posted 26/11/2022 at 11:34:19
Seb @37 well done for inadvertently illuminating the excellent points raised in this article. You've just 'outed' yourself in your own way I suppose.

Stuart thank you for posting this and for raising important points based on your own experiences of the footballing world. I can only see progress being achieved by consistently highlighting the problems and the encouragement of subsequent discourse. Especially with bigots.

As for the World Cup, you didn't miss much last night!

Stuart Bellamy
40 Posted 26/11/2022 at 15:15:22
Thanks Steve and the many others for all of your positive comments and support, really appreciate them and glad the article has created this discussion. I must admit it's getting a little easier to miss the games and definitely sounds like last night was a bit of a shocker!

A couple of thoughts with respect to some of the responses. The tournament being held in Qatar has highlighted their human rights violations, particularly with the debacle over the One Love armbands and the former Welsh captain's hat removal. But I would argue it would have made a much bigger statement if, for example, the Qatar bid was rejected by FIFA at the beginning because of their record on human rights and homophobic, racist and mysogenistic laws. Or once FIFA had awarded the tournament to Qatar, all of the countries stated immediately that their teams would not take part for the same reasons. Now that would have been a statement about human rights for all (and think of the lives of the migrant workers that would have saved by not building the stadia and related infrastructure).

And indeed role on Boxing Day when the proper football starts again, despite the dreadful run of results before the World Cup started, I live in hope that Frank can turn this around, I really want him to succeed so we can finally have some stability and consistency in the mens first team. Time to try some of the youngsters Frank!

Mick Appleyard
41 Posted 26/11/2022 at 20:36:29
Thank you Stuart Bellamy.

Great for keeping the focus on another horrible example from the catalogue of inhumane behavior taking place around the world and the inevitable uplift from hearing about how others are dealing with not watching a World cup-it's just weird isn't it!

Given the likely generational span of readers on here, points made and examples highlighted in responses will spread back over the last 50 years or so, however those mentioned up until now on the thread have also taken place during the rolling out globally of the neo liberal project. If nothing else the driver of a hugely significant reversal in a 125 year trend up to the end of the 1960s of reducing income inequality globally, the sort of thing that has an impact.

Although it was hardly rose gardens and tea and cream cones at 4pm for many beforehand, the impact on the human condition we see, hear and can read about today is exactly what Walter Lippmann, a promoter of arguably the cruelest economic and social system in modern times, saw as the key weakness of the project as far back as the 1920s.

The idea that people could be relied upon to prioritise the social good in societies which are:
Highly individualised-even the movement formed in 2006 to support the survivors of sexual violence was named ‘me too’ rather ‘us too’
Deregulated- where is the point/clause in FIFAs kit rules which legitamises the introduction of the booking of players to sit alongside existing fines for associations after a tournament has begun?
Monocultural- The white, middle class male is still predominantly the most privileged social demographic today
cleary worried Walter.

Few here would argue that what would likely complicate proceedings for a rainbow flag bearing, footy fanatic in Qatar, and sadly in so many other places around the world, could clearly include any of the following: age, gender, ethnicity, class, mobility, accent and on and on.

Agreed Stu, it is high time that “they (we) all really made a stand and made a difference.

Perhaps I should give it a rest and leave it to a former Nazi sympathizer, right wing alliance member turned Hitler critic:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
—Martin Niemöller. 1946

John Raftery
42 Posted 26/11/2022 at 00:22:18
Having followed every World Cup since 1962, I must admit this tournament is passing me by. A holiday in Sydney and Christchurch always seemed a better use of a blank month in Everton’s calendar. The only action I have watched so far was the last half hour of USA v England yesterday which did nothing to whet the appetite.

From what I have picked up in the media, the tournament is creating more news, most of it negative, about stuff happening off the pitch than on it. Aside from the issues raised by Stuart, I doubt that is to the benefit of the long-term health of the game.

In the end, I suppose, money talks. I suspect ultimately the changes in behaviours and attitudes to the LGBTQ+ players and supporters will be driven by economic and financial considerations once it dawns on sponsors and governing bodies that resistance to change will adversely affect the bottom line.

Kieran Kinsella
43 Posted 27/11/2022 at 00:30:37
John Rafferty,

Qatar aside, it hasn’t been great on the football front. A lot of 0-0 draws, but you picked the worst of the lot with the England game. There have been a few good games though, Portugal v Ghana, Ecuador v Netherlands, upsets with Japan and Saudi, some great goals from Richarlison and the Dutch fellow, and a few blowouts involving England, Spain and France.

I’m hoping though it kicks up a notch. Too many teams in fear of losing mode so far.

Rob Rothwell
44 Posted 27/11/2022 at 03:54:39
Despite the corruption and politics, which is worldwide in every country and industry (I have lived and worked in many continents and can vouch for that), Qatar has as much right as any other nation to host a World Cup.

They also have a right to their own beliefs and lifestyles, and just because certain people around the world disagree with it, no need to always vocalize it. Qatar is in a much better state than most countries around the globe.

Live and let live.

Kieran Kinsella
45 Posted 27/11/2022 at 04:35:51

What’s your criteria for being “a much better state than most countries around the globe”?

Are we talking wealth? Yes, absolutely. Are we talking: human rights, funding UN-designated terrorist groups, etc then no. Not so much.

What countries are they “better” than? Afghanistan under the Taliban. Failed states like Libya, Central African Republic and Somalia. The even worse, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, maybe China under Xi Jinping. I think that’s about it really.

I would say all of Europe, all of South America, North America, most ot Africa, Oceania, most of Asia, are “much better” than Qatar in terms of human rights and not funding terrorists but again, if your criteria is paying a lot of money to expats and building skyscrapers, then yeah, Qatar rocks.

Alan J Thompson
46 Posted 27/11/2022 at 06:28:54
"There's people running on the pitch, they think it's all over..."

Imagine an England v Germany final and both teams came out with LGBTQ+ laces, armbands, hats et al, and at the first yellow (fitting colour) card both teams walked off. Would Fifa show their true colours and back down for the money and would any penalties on the countries involved lead to a breakaway from Fifa?

In the words of another Scouser, "Imagine all the people..." not to mention the VAR replays.

Ian Jones
47 Posted 27/11/2022 at 07:30:46
Stuart, a really thought-provoking article and some fantastic responses.

You ask why no other player has come out since Jake Daniels and then supply a few possible answers including

'because the players fear potential abuse from the stands'

I feel that's part of it, which is more a sad indictment of some in the crowd, many of whom are quick to abuse players in general for merely breathing on the pitch.

I haven't heard the rumours about the 2 Premier League players in a relationship. That'll be interesting to see if anything develops.

It would also be interesting to know how many other players around the world have come out whilst playing.

I remember reading an interesting article from Thomas Hitzelberger about how difficult it would be for Jake Daniels because whilst he will want to be the best footballer possible he will no doubt feel the need to be a role model for the LGBTQ community which will be putting undue pressure on himself.

He also indicated something like 'many people are not near the point of acceptance and so not everyone will be clapping or cheering'

Can't remember exactly who the 'people' that he refers to are, public, team mates, media etc

Hitzelberger also mentioned that whilst its ok to come out publicly at the professional level, people at the grass roots level would need support.

The media intrusion could be another sticking point.

Personally, I expected a coming together, a group of players from different countries to take the opportunity to come out together, either at the World Cup or whilst it was going on. Give the media the group to focus on rather than the first player to come out. Safety in numbers etc.

Would have been perfect timing and would have sent out a powerful message. Would have provided FIFA with something to think about.

However, on the basis that there may be players in the competition who might be in the group, no doubt it would have just caused further media speculation and distracted the players.

Not an easy situation.

On a separate note, the women's game doesn't seem to suffer the same issues.

Rick Tarleton
48 Posted 27/11/2022 at 07:33:15
Qatar should never have been given the World Cup, because of its treatment of migrant workers, because of its human rights record, and because it is not in any sense a "football" country.

But the hypocrisy of many European nations is equally nauseous. Our last two home secretaries, Patel and Braverman, seem to regard migrants as people to be treated as inhumanely as possible.

Our very high crime rates, particularly against women, and our failure to improve our crime statistics. Our love affair with alcohol and drugs do not make us appealing to many nations.

I also feel that, as Rob Rothwell says, countries all have their own beliefs; many like Qatar have beliefs that contradict my own. If we had the World Cup and Qatar said we aren't happy that you do not have Sharia Law, we'd tell them to mind their own business, that isn't how we do things.

Everything that Qatar stands for is, to me, abhorrent, but the mistake was made when Blatter and Fifa took the money – it's a bit late to complain now.

Paul Hewitt
49 Posted 27/11/2022 at 08:01:37
Haven't watched any World Cup so far, and no intentions to watch any at all. I have to admit I didn't think I could do it. But strangely I haven't missed it one bit.
Robert Tressell
50 Posted 27/11/2022 at 09:03:28
Stuart, really good article. Qatar has put a spotlight on it internationally. But we have a really lousy situation with it in the UK still. Anyway, I support all you say on the matter and don't be shy to keep saying it.
Don Wright
51 Posted 27/11/2022 at 09:26:01
For me, the magic of the World Cup has gone. All the issues aside, about this one and the are a number which we all agree.

My first World Cup was 1966, my old man took me to Goodison to watch Portugal v Brazil when I was 7. They were footballers (and I use that term as opposed to 'players' which they are now – nothing more), men you would only see every 4 years if you were lucky: Pele, Eusebio, Tostao, Beckenbauer, Yashin… names that were not household at the time.

Now, the supposed top players you see every week a lot in the Premier League, household names – thanks to social media, we even know what they have for breakfast! There is for me nothing special about the World Cup anymore – no mystery, no magic.

We all know what goes on, off and on the pitch. Hands up if anyone knew that, in 1966, 31 African nations boycotted the tournament because of Fifa but, at the time, not many people knew the ins and outs.

Pele, I only ever saw him play once (TV aside). Richarlison I saw every week.

And finally, I need Morocco to win the cup – I have them in the sweep at work.

Stuart Bellamy
52 Posted 27/11/2022 at 09:30:18
Thanks all for the further comments, interesting to hear others aren't really missing watching it, now that the tournament has progressed a bit I'm not missing it half as much as I did or I thought I would!

Rob @ 44 - if I went Qatar with a guy and live and let lived, I'd be put in jail and would probably be live and let dying fairly soon by the hand of an executioner. European countries have many faults wrt human rights, and further to go, particularly for migrant workers and the protection of women, but their governers don't actively kill people for simply being who they are.

Mick @ 41, that was a fascinating read!

John @ 43, I think you're absolutely right that, as always these days with football, money will drive the major change. When it becomes more detrimental economically to not be really supporting a more liberal game, things will change pretty quick. I suspect we may be heading towards that point sooner rather than later.

Alan @ 46 - that would be incredible!

Ian @ 47 - I agree I think potential abuse from the stands is a big part of this, though bizarrely I feel it would be easier at grass roots; there is a lot of abuse at that level too but I think people will be much more likely to call it out as it'll likely be towards someone they know personally. Regards other players around the world coming out, there a few that are actively playing, most notably Josh Cavallo in Australia and Anton Hysen (son of the former Liverpool defender) in Sweden, but it's still only a handful, with some notable ex players coming out, like Thomas Hitzlsperger. Thomas's comments after Jake came out are interesting, I wonder (and hope) in the short time since he made them whether things have moved on significantly and there will be a lot more acceptance in the changing and board rooms. And I've thought about whether a group of players could come out together quite a lot, but coming out is such a personal choice and experience I'm not 100% convinced that's the way to go, but maybe it would work!

And thanks Rob @50!

John Raftery
53 Posted 27/11/2022 at 09:44:54
Rob @44.

Of course Qatar have their own cultures and beliefs –so do North Korea, except of course they have more money and influence. But they have no right to host a World Cup and invite fans but also impose laws which in most countries in said World cup are basic human rights. No fan should be threatened with prison or death for being who they are.

With the winning and hosting of a world event comes the responsibility of acceptance that your threats are offensive and abhorrent to the majority of teams and countries involved.

Live and let live? That's just the point, they don't let you live, they kill or imprison you for being who you are or even acknowledge your existence.

Money can't buy you acceptance. No religion has a right to kill. No religion trumps human rights. The right to life, the right to freedom of expression.

Qatar wanted to host the world cup; it should never have been awarded to them if they could not offer acceptance of all fans – no matter colour, creed, religion, gender or sexual orientation. This should have been the very cornerstone of their application.

Christine Foster
54 Posted 27/11/2022 at 11:16:49
Lyndon, Er.. not sure what's happened there, post 53 was mine, not John Raftery, hate for him to get my abuse !
Ed Fitzgerald
55 Posted 27/11/2022 at 11:42:15

Thank you for writing such a moving, eloquent, original and impassioned argument. I sincerely hope we are heading towards a time when players and fans alike can be open about their sexuality without it being any issue in the boardroom, on the terraces or in the media.

A bit like Don@ 51 the magic of the World Cup has been tarnished over the past thirty years or so as the game has been progressively globalised, commercialised and constantly televised. The allure of seeing superstar players from other countries used to be a exciting spectacle but the advent of the champions league has removed or reduced that thrill. I’m not actively boycotting the WC but an amalgam of disinterest and disgust (at FIFA and the host nations treatment of minorities and immigrant workers) means I haven’t watched a full game as yet.I’ve watched the odd 20 minutes here and there, but that’s it.

My lack of interest has baffled my partner as she is struggling with the recurrent phrase ‘yes love it’s fine to watch another episode of The Crown’ or some other Netflix show. I’m viewing this six week hiatus from football as some kind of emotional cleansing exercise, before the return of anxiety, foul language and intemperate rage returns on the 26th of December!

Stuart Bellamy
56 Posted 27/11/2022 at 12:13:58
Well said Christine and thanks Ed, it certainly does feel like a bit of a cleansing exercise at the moment ahead of the inevitable frustration of Boxing Day and beyond!
Oliver Molloy
57 Posted 27/11/2022 at 12:19:17
I'd buy your partner a telly and she wouldn't have to ask if "its fine" to watch whatever she wants!
Dave Abrahams
58 Posted 27/11/2022 at 12:28:32
I don’t know if any of you have seen the lovely video of Louis van Gaal, the former Dutch and Man Utd manager, being interviewed by a young reporter.

The reporter said he had no questions to ask Van Gaal but just wanted him to know he had admired as a player since he was 3 years old. Louis gave him a big smile and said he would like to give him a big hug; he then moved down and greeted the reporter and, with a big smile, gave him that big hug.

I don’t know if he was trying to make a point but it certainly looked like he was. This interview was in Qatar.

John Raftery
59 Posted 28/11/2022 at 19:19:29
Christine (54),

Yes, not me. But I wish it had been!

Seb Niemand
60 Posted 28/11/2022 at 21:29:07
Steve @ 39,

"Outed" myself?

From where? As what?

I was never "in"...

Eric Myles
61 Posted 29/11/2022 at 09:01:10
Ed #55, I have the opposite problem, it's the missus that wants to watch the World Cup.

John #53, I certainly remember in my lifetime gays being imprisoned and being killed because of who they are in the UK.

Michael Kenrick
62 Posted 29/11/2022 at 10:28:15
I see that hate figure, Piers bloody Morgan has done his supposedly 'Uncensored' show from Dohar last night.

His interview with the Qatari boss of the World Cup effort should set a new benchmark for sportswashing – I mean, the very idea that "everyone is welcome" as this bloke claimed... and of course only 3 dead migrant workers – not the 6,500 cited in The Guardian.

But at least he offered a little bit of explanation about the preeminence of the individual in Western democracies, that must be contrasted with the preeminence of societal values in Arab nations that are founded (just as ours used to be) on religion. The difference being the continued (and growing?) vehemence of that particular religion.

Indeed, the role of religion in setting the agenda here seems to have been almost completely ignored, with it couched instead as some almost arbitrary 'hatred' or 'bigotry' that can be reversed by a host of virtue signalling and a quite frankly ridiculous personal boycott of what is turning into a tremendous footballing tournament.

Interesting too that this interview was 'balanced' by a rare interview with Gray & Keys (who live and work in Doha) which looked back at the ferocity of the campaign against them 10 years ago that saw them lose their jobs with Sky TV for making offhand (uncensored?) sexist comments about a female assistant referee.

Stuart Bellamy
63 Posted 29/11/2022 at 13:04:06
Thanks Michael for your perspective, sorry that you see the individual boycotting as ridiculous but it is a personal and important choice for many of us. I hope I've raised some awareness from this article on this very subject, and I've certainly had some interesting conversations with friends and colleagues on this too (some of whom are boycotting, some not).

You raise a very important point about religion and the religious beliefs in Qatar and other Arab states being at the forefront of their societal behaviours and laws. Having looked into this both by reading published theological works and by speaking to people of faith, at no point in neither the Bible nor the Quran does it state that homosexuality is fundamentally wrong, it is discouraged (very forcefully) based on the fact that the writers of both texts understood that, with the extremely high infant mortality and low life expectancy of those times, populations needed to reproduce rapidly in order to grow and homosexuality doesn't lend itself to that (and neither does marstubation, hence why, for example, Onan was put to death by God for spilling his seed) . so the predujices around homesexuality being displayed by Qatar and other countries around the world, based on religion, are just that, predujices i.e. people's (mis) interpretation of ancient text or teaching to fit their own inate hatred of someone or something. Taking that into account, those societal beliefs and laws should be challenged vigourously.

Pete Clarke
64 Posted 29/11/2022 at 15:01:05
I have detested that decision to give Qatar the World Cup right up to today and often said that I wouldn't watch it. My thoughts were not based around their human rights or religiously controlled society which I knew little about but my thoughts were solely based on the fact that they were not a football-loving nation and conditions there are not suitable for football anyway.

Everything about that decision was wrong. Corruption won the day back then and Sepp Blatter and his cohorts should have all been put behind bars for allowing this to happen.

The rights of the LGBTQ are growing strong in the world but they pale into insignificance when compared to the rights of those poor workers who reportedly suffered at the hands of these mega-rich people to whom wealth matters more than anything. So many innocent people have died in Qatar just trying to earn a living. How is that even possible in this day and age?

For this alone, the World Cup should not have taken place there and the big footballing nations should be ashamed of themselves for sending their teams to Qatar instead of making a stand. Political correctness and corruption go hand in hand I suppose.

I don't support England because they play crap football and I feel no affinity to them but I would have changed that if they were to have boycotted this World Cup. I would have felt proud.

We will hear plenty of stories about Qatar once the World Cup is over. I expect there will be a lot of people complaining about various things but the one thing that is going well at the moment is the football itself.

Some of the games have been shown here in Australia at 6 and 9 pm at night which is just that time when you settle down from work so I admit to going against my initial thoughts of boycotting it.

Some of the football being played by nations like Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Ghana, Costa Rica, Morocco and my personal favorite so far, Croatia, has been absolutely beautiful to watch. It's such a relief from watching the absolute dross our very own team Everton have served on us for many a long year.

It is a beautiful game and I hope one of these nations can spring a big surprise and win it. As for Qatar, well the quicker the rest of the world becomes a lot less reliant on them then the better. Nothing lasts forever.

Eric Myles
65 Posted 29/11/2022 at 15:35:29
Michael #62, it's not just in Qatar and the Muslim nations that societal values are put above those of the individual.

Look at Asia where I live, the rights of the majority are put ahead of those of the individual murderers, rapists and kiddy fiddlers – no 5-star resorts for them here. Prisons are a punishment.

And the vehemence of their religion? Those nasty Buddhists!

Alan J Thompson
66 Posted 29/11/2022 at 15:51:14
Sparked by the reported observations on ToffeeWeb of the Japanese team cleaning their changing rooms I wondered if this is going the right way about things. I didn't see the clip but did anyone who did notice if players had their own individual enclosed changing areas, if there were team baths or if there were individual enclosed showers?

If not then could the people responsible for the open design, and I imagine that would be the Head of the Qatari Government as financier and the President of FIFA, be charged under Qatari (or religious) law for promoting homosexuality by exposing young sportsmen to teammates in various stages of undress? What's good for the goose, eh? Or perhaps Mr Infantino could imagine being a hypocrite, it's easy if he tries.

Mike Gaynes
67 Posted 29/11/2022 at 16:05:51
Eric #65, I'd be interested to know in which country you live. I'm not aware of any except Bhutan in which Buddhism is considered a national religion for legal purposes, and Buddhists believe in healing criminal offenders.
Kieran Kinsella
68 Posted 29/11/2022 at 16:09:24

The problem is that the Bible is long and seemingly contradictory at points. You lumped in the Bible with the Quran and spoke of the writers being focused on birth rates and infant mortality.

Without intending to be pedantic, St Paul who wrote most of the New Testament said the ideal state was celibacy. Regardless of orientation. Also, John The Baptist was beheaded because he condemned Herod for marrying his brother's ex-wife as this was against the Bible. Obviously, if he was concerned with infant mortality rates, then he would have thought this okay as potentially Herod and Herodius could have had more kids.

Now to me, this seems a bit weird given that seemingly it was okay for Lot to have kids with his own daughter in the Old Testament in order to further Abraham's seed as it were. And it was okay for Abraham to have it off with his servant for the same reason.

But we don't know who actually wrote the Old Testament, and some of it seems to have been co-opted from Babylonian laws. Those laws, we could assume (though can't prove) may well have been tied to logistics as you say (eg, infant mortality rates) as well as avoiding shellfish and pork due to prevalence of food poisoning tied to disease.

Now we might suppose that St Paul, like the author of Revelations, thought the end of time was nigh – in which case, there wasn't much need for having more kids. Also, unlike Abraham ,whose group was expanded through birth, Paul could recruit gentiles so they didn't need Christians to have babies to boost the growth of the church. But, it's not technically accurate to say the Bible writers were primarily concerned with birth rates and infant mortality.

The bigger point is though that mainstream Christians do not condemn anyone based on their orientation. Some may say, anything other than procreation is wrong, but that applies to anyone outside of a man and wife actively trying to have a child. So in other words, 95% of people.

So I think it's better to keep the focus on the issue in hand, namely Qatar, their laws based on the predominant religion there, rather than bringing in the Bible and all the nuances and complexities tied with that as it just muddies the water more for people trying to make a specific point about the treatment of people under a particular regime.

Eric Myles
69 Posted 29/11/2022 at 16:19:37
Mike, I've been living the past 30 years in Thailand where Constitutionally their government religion is Buddhism. Visit one of their prisons to see the healing the prisoners get.

But now I live in Viet Nam and have not yet had a chance to enjoy the hospitality of their penal system. I just know I don't want to.

Mike Gaynes
70 Posted 29/11/2022 at 16:33:29
Eric #69, I'm sorry to contradict you, but Buddhism is not Thailand's constitutional religion. It requires only that the king be a Buddhist and protect that religion from "desecration" (I asked our friends who are Buddhist teachers in Chiang Rai).

And Thailand's legal system is considered by the US State Department to be a frequent violator of human rights, with the government leveraging it for torture, arbitrary arrests and political censorship. Not sure you want to cite that system as a shining example of justice.

Eric Myles
71 Posted 29/11/2022 at 16:55:56
Mike, you misread my response to Michael. I was not citing it as a shining example of justice. I was pointing out that there are other countries that have the same equally bad societal values as Qatar but are of a different religion.

Ask your friends about article 67 of the Thai Constitution.

Steve Shave
72 Posted 29/11/2022 at 17:22:26
Seb @60 let's see, how have you 'outed yourself' with your insidious little post @37? I'd say at the very least as a cynical person? As someone who is emotionally invalidating of others? As someone who makes unnecessary snide, sarcastic remarks to someone who has taken the time to share their views with us? Those are the immediate things that spring to mind, if I gave it more thought there would be others I'm sure.

That response is considerably kinder than the one I originally wrote. You are absolutely entitled to your view but if you write in the manner you have don't expect to not be called out for it. As you will see from the rest of the thread, most valued the authors authenticity and principles even if they have chosen not to boycott the WC, it's called valuing diversity.

Christine Foster
73 Posted 04/12/2022 at 17:39:28
The BBC have just reported that Arsene Wenger has criticized the performance of politically protesting nations saying their performances have suffered due to a lack of mental preparation.
The teams [who performed well] were mentally ready," Wenger said.
"They had the mindset to focus on the competition and not on political demonstrations."

Of course everyone expected Wales and Denmark and Iran to reach the semi finals with Germany. this is a disgraceful comment. A FIFA representative
( Wenger) Blaming players for not condoning (ignoring) the human rights abuses of the host nation. What a prick.

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