Picture credit: AFP.
One could believe that FIFA, as a sports federation, has become a federal state by being invited to the G20 summit in Indonesia; the meeting where politicians supposedly recalibrate the world’s moral compass. The sheer number of dubious deals and decisions on where to play international tournaments – most prominently the World Cup in Qatar which is just about to start – has rendered the association one of the most corrupt organisations in the world. Thousands of exploited labourers have died to host an event whose purpose it is to play football, and enormous amounts of resources have been misused to build infrastructure and stadiums, which will never be used again, when the rest of the world is fighting climate change and the energy crisis. There is nothing but to say that this tournament has brought so much bad for nature and people for the sake of profit making.
A president of such an organisation who is not only defending the decision to host the event in Qatar but is also allegedly closely aligned with Putin and has never publicly condemned the war must not be a man whose words should have any weight within the realm of international politics. Yet, arguably, the twenty most influential countries in the world set the stage for the man causing so much grief for the people, nature and the game. Calling for ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia and in the same breath calling the World Cup an “opportunity to do everything we can to start putting an end to all conflicts”, when in Qatar homosexuality can be punished by death and the World Cup 2022 is the epitome of modern slavery, is to say the least disgusting and shameful for all G20 attending politicians.
Why is a private person and criminal, whose organisation generated a revenue of almost five billion dollars in 2018 treated like a statesman? A corrupt businessman, or for that matter, any private person, should be able to not meet with democratically elected heads of states at an international summit to promote their business. If, as Infantino said, “football is a good force”, then why isn’t it acting as a good force to improve human rights where it is needed? And why is FIFA, instead of incentivising countries to host a sustainable tournament for the sake of the environment, supporting a regime which breached the UN Convention Against Torture, to host it in the desert? Since Infantino has already attended the G20 summit, it should have been those questions that made the headlines. But far from it; instead we see happy politicians with a happy FIFA Boss. If this is the beginning of late capitalism, where money-grabbing, amoral and influential enterprises consult with politicians, then we must not wonder why human rights and fighting climate change will never matter in our society.