The Guardian

We want to thrill to the beautiful game, but Fifa’s World Cup is toxic | Nick Cohen

The tournament has never been so blighted by politics and the taint of corruption
England’s Danny Rose asked his family not to go to his World Cup matches in Russia for fear of racist attacks. Photograph: James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

Like the male gaze, football fans have eyes for just one thing. Nothing can turn them away from the pitch. When Fifa announced it was handing the World Cup first to kleptomaniac murderers who run Russia and then to the overseers of a serf economy in Qatar, even cynics thought Zurich’s masters of corruption had finally gone too far. Surely the world wouldn’t stand for it.

Read the sporting press or examine your own conscience and you learn the world will not just stand for it but stand to attention and salute it. I am not claiming moral superiority. I will finish is coming into his prime at exactly the right moment. The looting of the Russian economy, the downing of civilian airliners, the murder of journalists, the sheer brazenness of Fifa’s decision to stage a World Cup in a country that has invaded and occupied another country are powerful arguments to boycott the circus. But their power is nothing before the power of the fans’ gaze that fixes your eyes on your team.

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