We understand a lot of Americans aren’t that interested in the World Cup, but most of the rest of the world takes it very seriously. This Cup has been controversial for off-field issues rather than the game itself. Reports surfaced that anyone wearing clothing supportive of LGBTQ causes would not be admitted to the stadium, prompting outcries from the liberal Western media.
The world’s governing soccer body FIFA seemed to want to avoid trouble, saying it would yellow-card and sanction players who wore rainbow armbands onto the pitch. A number of Western teams had planned on protesting the Muslim host nation of Qatar for its ban on homosexuality.
While many feathers were ruffled by Qatar’s unsurprising stance on the gay agenda, but UK diplomat John Jenkins joined the UnHerd podcast to warn that the bigger threat from Qatar is its infiltration of Western nations. The Arabic-language media company Al Jazeera is a Qatari creation and, with its massive wealth from natural gas reserves, the tiny nation is also sponsoring Islamic rhetoric in schools in Europe and buying strategic properties in the UK.
In a somewhat contrasting situation, the Iranian team remained silent during the playing of their national anthem, which many took to be a protest. Readers may know that violence broke out in Iran some weeks ago, after a woman who was arrested for not wearing her headscarf correctly died after being tortured by police. Iranian authorities have come down hard on protestors.