“The most duplicitous championship that has ever been held”, a “plastic” cup, “a championship that should never have happened” – such harsh epithets were given to the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Sunday by the former captain of the Latvian national football team Kaspars Gorkš and “Delfi” journalist Toms Gigulis. Gorkhs admitted that the constant scandals surrounding the home of the championship and the actions of FIFA took away the usual feeling of celebration and called on the fans of the king of sports not to forget about them.
The already widely described and discussed scandal related to the choice of Qatar as the home of the championship was inadvertently fueled by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who started the press conference the day before the first match with a very controversial speech. For this, he blamed the duplicity of Western countries, which criticize Qatar for exploiting migrant labor and neglecting human rights, and said: “Today I feel like a Qatari. Today I feel like an Arab. Today I feel like an African. Today I feel like a gay. Today I feel like a disabled person. Today I feel like a migrant worker.”
Responding to this, Gorks compared the FIFA farm to a cuppa – it seems tasty until you know what’s inside. “I’m probably wondering if the person who wrote that speech is still at work, where, apparently, the idea was to portray some historical great politician. I don’t even want to go into the absurdity of the text of the speech, because I think it was very unjustifiably bravado move – to justify everything that is happening in this situation. FIFA’s proposed values include human rights, solidarity, inclusivity, and then we come to the Qatar championship, which is the complete opposite of everything you write. I hope that like the decision to award the World Cup to Qatar was a magnifying glass to shed light on the shortcomings in football politics, then I hope that the championship itself, with the attitude of the Qataris themselves, will be the one that will bring this process to the end,” said the former captain of the Latvian national team.
Gigulis, meanwhile, expressed his suspicion that Infantino’s speech could be an “order” from the hosts of the championship: “I agree with the ESPN analysts who, discussing this speech, pointed out that it looks like this could have simply been a situation where the Qataris approached Infantino and said – get out now and defend us.Put all the politics and background discussions aside and go defend us and say that the west is just as bad if not worse.Infantino disgraced himself as a human being, he disgraced himself as FIFA president and FIFA’s reputation to such an extent , as far as it still existed at all.”
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Gorkhs admitted that this World Cup is not accompanied by the usual festive feeling and it is connected with the many permanent “side effects” related to the home of the championship. Gigulis added that as the tournament takes place in winter, the feeling of artificiality and even fakeness does not leave the country without football traditions. 01:28
Gigulis pointed out that despite the criticism of the media and human rights organizations, no sponsor has refused the Qatar championship – unlike, for example, the world hockey championship when it was planned in Belarus. He also called to think about the responsibility not only of FIFA, but also of the celebrities of the football world and the players themselves, who have so far limited themselves to symbolic gestures and statements without risking serious sanctions from the organizers. 07:20
In the opening game of the championship, the Ecuadorian national team defeated the host country Qatar 2-0, however, the biggest discussion arose about the Ecuadorian goal that was not counted due to the situation at the back of the game. Gorks admitted that, despite his long professional career, this decision was a surprise to him, but after consulting with experts, he had to conclude that everything happened according to the rules. Both guests admitted that this case raises discussions about the use of automated solutions in judging, because even though there was a formal violation, it did not really affect the moment of scoring the goal. 17:28
In general, the Qatar national team left a “toothless” impression, while the Ecuadorians did not let the initial failure destroy their fighting spirit, Gigulis assessed. It is also worth noting the fact that in the second half, when the home team got behind, the stands remained half-empty – many spectators left. Gorkhs admitted that this only increases the “plastic” taste of the championship. 29:40
The question of what will happen to the stadiums after the championship is also open, because the small country does not have such a large football farm to “populate” them. One of the stadiums was built from transport containers, with the idea of demolishing it after the championship, but for the others, we can only hope that the rich country will be able to maintain them, the guests admitted. It should be reminded that many of the stadiums built for the World Cup in Brazil and South Africa have suffered a grim fate – they are not used and gradually turn into ruins. 34:00
The guests also predicted how the championship will go for the two biggest stars of current world football, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi – it is expected that this will be their last World Cup as a player. Even though Messi is expected to win the cup in order to reach the level of Diego Maradona in the history of football, Gigulis emphasized that he does not really understand it, because both are very different players. Meanwhile, Gorks admitted that he will follow Ronaldo’s progress with great interest, even though he is not a fan of this player – Ronaldo, by giving a scandalous interview, reduced the burden of expectations imposed on himself and no one looks at the Portuguese national team as favorites, even though objectively its composition is very strong. 40:21
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