Does watching the World Cup make you complicit? Yes. Are we all invariably complicit in thousands of atrocities no matter how hard we strive to be good? Also yes.
On the eve of the FIFA men's World Cup, there isn't much more to say about it that hasn't already been said. It's definitely the first one I can remember where many will be watching but doing so while holding their noses.
This World Cup feels like the end result of Sepp Blatter getting the gang (read: him and Michel Platini) back together for one last heist. Normally, the host of a World Cup is announced six years in advance. Qatar 2022 was announced in 2010, at the same time of the Russia 2018 announcement. You could make the argument that you offer this amount of lead time when you know that the selected country doesn't have any existing stadiums suitable for an event of this type. You could also make the argument that you announce it to grease the wheels for the state of Qatar to purchase Platini's president's favourite club — ICYMI Nicolas Sarkozy is a Paris Saint-Germain supporter — so that it could overtake the two traditional French football powers, Olympique Lyonnais and Olympique Marseille.
And that's just the corruption relating to the winning bid for hosting the tournament, mind you. We haven’t even gotten to the long list of homophobia, problematic human rights, and labour rights issues associated with the host country. Unfortunately, because so many of us love football, we are faced with a choice of watching and/or following and/or reading about the World Cup and being complicit in legitimizing the bad actions of that country, or missing out on what should be the pinnacle of the game that only comes every four years.
I know it's not as simple as this but it's also not much more complicated than this.
I would love to view this tournament as an opportunity to shine a light on the problematic issues and foment change. But the World Cup will only last for a month, as will the media coverage of it. After the tournament is over, I'm sure we'll go back to our lives and these issues won't be talked about again, barring another dubious awarding of hosting duties. Qatar has instituted some half-hearted labour reforms but they have not amounted to significant change in protecting workers’ rights. Being anything other than a cis-het person will still be illegal. The Qatari state will still own the now-biggest football club in France and continue its sportswashing. David Beckham will keep sleeping on his even bigger pile of money while married to a woman whose old band is a gay icon.
Four years from now, the World Cup will be co-hosted by Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. I'd also love to say that this choice will wash the stench from the Qatar experience. But no host country is without its underrepresented peoples and issues. Dave and I were chatting recently about something else and he commented, "there is no ethical consumption" of anything, anymore. Maybe the bigger issue is that there's no ethical production?
Given the imminent arrival of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, this week’s questions are related to a couple of Oddball’s favourite categories: unsafe labour practices and human rights violations!
What is the trade name of the “puffy helmet” being introduced this season in the NFL in an effort to reduce concussions? A similar product with the same name was likely a big seller in northern Ohio earlier this year.
Curt Flood took his fight for free agency to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972, but it wasn’t until three years later that the MLB reserve clause was challenged again by two pitchers and free agency was granted to MLB players. One pitcher won two World Series championships with the Orioles, and the other has the sixth-lowest career ERA among starting pitchers in the live-ball era. Name either pitcher.
There have been multiple owner-instigated NHL lockouts, which happened under Gary Bettman’s watchful eye. The only player strike occurred in 1992 (prior to Bettman’s time) and lasted ten days. One of the major sticking points was related to how to divide a specific type of revenue that was not related to ticket sales or television deals. What was it?
In 2019, NBA players were called upon to sever endorsement deals with shoe makers Anta and Li-Ning due to their use of cotton harvested by forced labour in Xinjiang. Name an active player who has been an NBA All-Star and is signed to either of these labels.
Answers from last week’s issue
Former NHL ’94 great (and off-ice douchecanoe) Jeremy Roenick never won an individual award over the course of his career. What trophy did he come the closest to winning, with regards to how he placed in the voting tally?
In his first full NHL season, Jeremy Roenick came in third place in Calder Memorial Trophy voting, behind future Hall of Famers Sergei Makarov and Mike Modano. He was also fired from NBC sports for making inappropriate comments about a female colleague, Kathryn Tappen, which, if you can believe it, is just the tip of the iceberg in re: his motherfuckery.
One of the following NBA players has never made an All-NBA first, second, or third team: Kyle Lowry, Donovan Mitchell, DeMar DeRozan, John Wall, Victor Oladipo. Who’s the odd man out?
Donovan Mitchell made the 2018 All-Rookie Team and three All-Star teams, but has never been named to an All-NBA team. We’re predicting that will change after this season, as Spida is absolutely killing it in Cleveland.
One of the following present or former NFL quarterbacks never made a Pro Bowl: Trent Green, Elvis Grbac, Vinny Testaverde, Jon Kitna, Derek Anderson, Jake Delhomme, Jake Plummer. Whomst is the QB in question?
Barcelona Dragons legend and 1997 World Bowl MVP — and now, two-time Oddball trivia answer — Jon Kitna es el droide que busquem. All the other QBs have been to the Pro Bowl, with Green and Testaverde having been twice each.
One of the following sluggers never won a Home Run Derby at the annual All-Star Game: Todd Frazier, Ryne Sandberg, Tino Martínez, Bobby Abreu, Fred McGriff, Juan González. Who is it?
Among these players, only Fred McGriff has not won a Home Run Derby, though he participated in two of them. Related: Dave cried when McGriff was traded from Toronto to San Diego. Also related: Jonathan cried when Tony Fernández (RIP) was traded in the same trade.
RIP Lavel Davis Jr., D'Sean Perry and Devin Chandler. Gun violence is a scourge.
Many thanks to حسن الهيدوس for being named his name and to you for being named your name, unless your name is Tim Hardaway: just shut up, and keep shutting up.
Until next week, be the Ezequiel Carrera you wish to see in the world.