Our Qatar 2022 stance will be clouded by England success at World Cup in the ultimate victory for sportswashing

To what degree we protest will depend on how far the Home Nation teams progress, says Laura Lawrence, but are we in any position to question another country’s ethics on migrants given the way our government treats them?

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We are a matter of weeks away from the Qatar World Cup. We have been talking about this for a very long time. We’ve gone from one controversial story to another. From the deaths of over 6,500 migrant workers to creating a non-existent football utopia to questions about Qatari human rights and attitudes towards to the LBGTQA+ community.

The Qatari government perceives this as an “unprecedented campaign that no host country has ever faced.” The emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani went further and added: “It soon became clear to us that the campaign tends to continue and expand to include fabrications and double standards that were so ferocious that it has unfortunately prompted many people to question the real reasons and motives behind this campaign.”

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Memories are short. Remember the run up to Russia World Cup in 2018? Allegations of corruption during the bidding process, concerns about violent racism and homophobia, and the continued fallout from their annexation of Crimea.

Our problem is that England did well to reach the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, so those controversies are clouded by success. The ultimate victory for sportswashing.

The same will happen in Qatar.

The controversies will fade away in favour of the football, which, in fairness, it is a football tournament. To what degree, will depend on how far the Home Nation teams play and progress.

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The backlash isn’t unprecedented. It became a necessary task since Fifa decided to award tournaments to countries with questionable ethics and the lack of infrastructure to deal with an event of this size. All in the name of progress. But are we in any position to question another country’s ethics on migrants given the way our government treats them? We have people in charge who want to retreat from the European Convention on Human Rights. Hate crimes on the increase from the rise of populism. Are we in any position to judge?

I would love an untainted tournament. A competition where the controversies are on the pitch. Where VAR is the worst of it.

Players will wear rainbow ‘OneLove’ armbands. Whether this too will be sanctioned in the way Germany were for their ‘rainbow lights’ protest against Hungary’s anti-gay legislation, is yet to be seen. The England team will also invite migrants to training camps. The limit of what they can diplomatically do.

Keep politics out of football? How? Ignore it for a few weeks? Let the game play on. It will anyway.

Follow Laura on Twitter @YICETOR

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