Sideline: It was hot for this World Cup

An Extinction Rebellion activist puts up a banner during a protest against the soccer World Cup taking place in Qatar on Saturday in Berlin, Germany. AP photo

Sportswear almost sounds tasteful, a neat and tidy word for one of the most nefarious acts in politics.

Even if you don’t know what it is, you’ve probably heard of it. In its simplest definition, sportswashing is the means by which disreputable governments or corporations pin themselves and their dollars to sport to boost their reputation.

Sportswear brought a country like Qatar to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Rammed for its numerous human rights abuses in building the massive infrastructure needed for the smallest country to ever host a World Cup, Qatar shares borders with Saudi Arabia. Laws in Qatar prohibit homosexuality – which carries a prison sentence – and religions other than Islam. Since the country was selected to host the World Cup in 2015, there have been widespread allegations of corruption, bribery and scandal in securing the right to host the World Cup.

Those attending the World Cup in person over the next few weeks will not be allowed to drink alcohol at matches (unless joining the Illuminati in a luxury suite), may not wear bare skin and anti-Qatar speech is banned.

As brilliantly described in the documentary FIFA Uncovered recently released on Netflix’s streaming service, Qatar were granted this World Cup for one reason and one reason only.

Money.

Qatari officials hope this World Cup – which will be entirely orchestrated in stadiums, housed in hotels and using highways built after Qatar was named host – will erase the Arab nation’s bad reputation worldwide.

It’s sportswear, plain and simple, and casting a dark shadow over what otherwise holds promise as one of the best World Cups on the field in recent memory.

As most football associations hold their season from September to May, World Cups are usually held in the summer months. Qatar’s extreme summer temperatures have necessitated a move to another season and the world’s best players are in midseason form for this cup.

After failing to qualify for the 2018 tournament, the United States can boast of having the tournament’s youngest roster with something to prove. Unlike in previous decades, all of the American’s best players play in Europe’s top leagues.

There is no clear favourite. Belgium, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany – throw one of them in a hat and enjoy the chaos. Croatia, England, Denmark, Mexico and the Netherlands could be there with a bit of luck.

Add that here in the United States, the tournament takes place between the two biggest holidays on the calendar, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The recipe is better than anything your aunt could cook.

Unlike American football or baseball or cricket and rugby, soccer is simple with a simple goal. Kick the ball into the other team’s net. From the youngest kids in the world’s poorest neighborhoods to the brightest managers on the sidelines during the tournament, the game appeals to a global audience.

The World Championship celebrates everything that makes the game – The Beautiful Game – wonderful. The tournament promotes diversity at its finest, a wealth of personality, culture and national identity, all of which populate the fields and stands throughout more than three weeks of play.

Unfortunately, that celebration will be muted in 2022.

It is bleached starch white, without any distinction between the participating nations and their individual soccer philosophies, through sportswear.

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