@JAMWANDA ON SATURDAY – Qatar: More than a match! Gianni Infantino

Not my cup of tea

Football is not my cup of tea; or call it cup of leather. I neither care nor miss it. Except for the noise football occasions, I would not even take notice of it. Nor do I know how many players make a team, or how they are arranged and planted in the field of play.

I find it utterly mad that so many big, brawny men dress up contrastively and in shorts, to kick and then chase some inflated and mottled round leather of a dead cow, all to hideous, hysterical cheer from frenzied crowds!

With every so-called goal, defined as a shot past a vainly diving last man into the net, a human mass spontaneously rises and heaves in waves on edges of some serrated terraces of an oblong structure called a stadium. Why this strange sport which we are told the English invented and let loose upon humanity, can so successfully excites the same humanity into its basest, atavistic and worst feral form.

The stupendous energies released and expended; the scuffling, bloody fighting and violent destruction often wrought, merely because some inflated leather has been shot past some human, into a threaded backdrop? At once the instantaneous rage of defeat, and celebratory roar emitted in equal measure?

I just don’t get it; this complete, mass frenzied madness.

Grant Qatar and football glory

But I am the first one to admit and cede to football its awesome power and hold over mankind! Qatar has been no exception. It has changed my attitude, turning me into the game’s foremost votary. I now believe in the World Cup, even though I will not waste my precious time watching any of its games.

I have more important matters to watch and chase. Qatar delivered a singularly spectacular global match which I consummately followed without watching. And to imagine Qatar delivered it all off pitch, well before the first whistle to World Cup blew!

Infantino the enfant terrible

Without risking any contest, I can safely declare that the Maradona of the 2022 World Cup is one Gianni Infantino, to many the sport’s enfant terrible! The developing world will not forget him easily; the western world will not forgive him, easily too.

The developing world will forever hail him their timeless hero; the western world will forever hate him, their timeless villain. All of which leads to a perfect draw in this matchless tussle.

Taking everything to penalty, from which the West emerges embarrassingly mauled and beaten. I, a triumphant underdog player, today feel happily avenged: for once the West has been soundly beaten. It will endure four long years of smarting defeat and indignation, until 2026 when we have the next World Cup, hopefully to afford it eventual healing.

Much depends where the World Cup will be in 2026, what with FIFA’s routinely rigged selection process. Frankly I don’t care; for now the West has been beaten; let’s all rejoice!

Punching above her weight

Holding the World Cup in the tiny Arab Nation of Qatar was never going to be easy or smooth sailing. The World Cup is big money, and thus a setting for mighty national punters. That makes it a fraught affair in which the small and weak most likely get hacked down mercilessly.

Yet tiny Qatar has always sought to punch above its weight. This is how it gave us Al-Jazeera, a global news channel, and not far back earned itself the combined rheum of most Gulf States led by oil-rich Saudi Arabia, over some boiling cauldron that Yemen has become.

It is one tiny country with a huge capacity to upset, even winning key contests so unevenly staked against it. The World Cup was no exception.

A venue that should never have been

Mired in all-round, unsparing controversy, including on the weather the country cannot help, Qatar became, under Western eyes, the country-venue which should never have been. A venue which continued to be impugned even as it defiantly and inevitably became, much to the chagrin of the censorious West.

In all that, the contest was always going to be off-pitch, with the greedy, imperious and hectoring West seeking to be at once FIFA’s unilaterally self-installed “president”, player, pitch, linesman, referee, spectator, all stadia, and even all the presumptive camera lenses that capture a World Cup before it even begins.

Sought to be all the reporters and editors who write the story before the match begins, indeed who wrote the story before any occurrence. The World Cup played out before it started and, in the case of the spiteful BBC, never officially opened, never had a venue even as it did and had respectively.

It is this multi-layered, off-football lit my interest and got me into the game, willy nilly, as Team Third World’s foremost fullback and striker, all at once. Qatar deserved to be defended with all might, and to score and prevail, whether by fair or foul means. Qatar became all of us: Third World Cultures, Teams and Players.

Racist geographies

The whole thing reeked, as it has always done, and shall always do to end times. In World Cups past, this one, and many more to come. According to FIFA’s history of warped world geography, England and Wales are full Nations, European Nations at that! They are Nations the same way Zimbabwe, Nigeria are.

Or the same way Matabeleland, Kaduna or Ashanti can never be, come football, come tennis! Yet there is some history and method to it: it is the same sense of geography which makes cartographers draw Africa to look and appear smaller than Europe.

In reality, the African continent is much larger than Europe and America put together, is in fact the second largest continent on this planet. Yet it has been miniaturised, in history and now! The West bullies everyone and everything, including in cartography! One hopes ZIMSAT-1 will right this long historical injustice we have lived with for far too long.


Anyway, all that is a very important digression.

3 000 years of sinning

Gianni Infantino, the man of the World Cup match, uncharacteristically ranted: “I think for what we Europeans have been doing in the last 3 000 years around the world, we should be apologising for the next 3 000 years before starting to give moral lessons to people.” Comrade Infantino is Italian, every inch European therefore.

He is FIFA’s current President. What goaded him into breaking racial ranks, to make this monumentally awful historical confession — on behalf of sinful, but never contrite Europeans; for wronged but never compensated Africans — was the gross importation by the West of blatantly naked politics into a sport famed and vaunted for standing on the leg of apolitical-ness.

Many nations — Zimbabwe included — have been served with severe reprimands and, at worst served with severe sanctions for charges of infractions against this cardinal rule in sport, namely abominably importing politics into the field of football play.

Charges from sanctimonious West

Qatar saw the sanctimonious West discharging Europeanised politics into football. Not small, small politics, but big, copious politics discharged in industrial quantities against the small but defiant Qatar. First, the West ran an open political campaign which alleged and discredited Qatar for using slave labour in building stadia for the World Cup.

Many Europeans pushed that Qatar, which had already sunk in billions in such preparations, be disqualified from staging the world football bonanza, even as it had won the chance to do so. FIFA President Infantino would have none of it, reminding the censorious West he himself had been born into intra-European exploitative migrant labour culture, but to no qualms from the West.

His Italian father had laboured in sweatshops of rich Switzerland; no European Nation made qualms about it! He touched a raw Western nerve!

Qatar versus West’s past

He could have gone further, receded far back in history for richer indicting material and abundant evidence.

He could have asked the whole of Europe and America who but African and Indian un-paid or underpaid labour bored the tunnels through which their rail network today runs. Was it not the Africans from our Continent and in the diaspora, who did it, for little pay, and back-breaking work? Was it not the Indians, themselves not even in the World Cup contest?

He could have reminded America of how its current hegemony rests on African, Latino and Asian labour.

Stereotype of diseased Africa

I am reading a book on the history of tropical diseases and empire building. The book focuses on how garrisons of imperial Britain, France and Denmark — yes tiny Denmark — were decimated by fevers and diarrhoeas at various forts along the West African coastline and islands, most typified by Elmina in present-day Ghana, and Goree off Senegal.

The book asks why these Europeans kept coming in waves, and kept dying in their hundreds to and in this part of Africa soon to be called “the whiteman’s grave”. It gives several reasons, including the allure of Africa’s fabled riches.

The book goes further. Upon realising local Africans and blacks they re-exported back to Africa were not dying in as many numbers as Europeans, these imperial powers introduced what they called “castle slaves” whom they armed to man and defend their garrisons for little or no pay, even then as they pretended to be fighting for an end to slavery especially after 1809!

Of course the book conveniently fails to find sources which document diseases which whites brought and introduced to Africa and Africans, diseases like syphilis, gonorrhoea, measles, tuberculosis, smallpox and influenza which claimed many African lives.

To do so would make it harder to uphold Africa’s stereotype as a continent of disease, and Europe’s preferred image as the civilising solution to Africa’s epidemics. The whole relationship between the West and the rest has been built on false, duplicitous narratives.

The mistake is to think this duplicity is now past; rather, it continues to be reworked, including in seemingly innocent areas like football and the World Cup which is supposed to be recreational.

Can they cast the first stone, any stone at all?

Even here on the African continent, we know how Europeans brought in Indians, and captured Africans under the Chibharo system to provide cheap labour on infrastructure and in plantations. This is how Natal became Indian, and how Wenela was created, right from the late 19th Century following discovery of diamonds and gold in South Africa.

Yet today they dare pontificate on forced labour and Qatar stadia, which they are enjoying now anyway! If slavery and forced labour where not there, what remains of Western Civilisation as we know it today? Westernisers thus cannot be the first to cast a stone on Qatar!

Duplicity of One Love

Qatar saw the same sanctimonious West seeking to impose its oddities and deviances, but packaged as superior values, moral standards and even as sacred human rights that must never be bended. Qatar stands accused of not allowing in the West’s gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transvestites, queers and God knows what else, to fly in a cavort as they pleased!

Couched as OneLove Armband Campaign, Qatar came under tremendous pressure, including through on-pitch symbolic protests by western teams in the World Cup.

The rule-ridden, but apolitical game of soccer was now being overlaid by a new, Europeanised moral code of utter decadence, but strutting as a battery of inviolate human – not western deviance – rights! An imperious attempt to flatten human sense of morality, but after the wired mores of mighty West!

The threat was clear: allow and respect the rights of our queers or we withdraw your clean right to host the World Cup! The politics of false, decadent morality now kicked the ball into Qatar’s goalpost and, by extension, into our own goalposts as Africans, Asians, Latinos, Chinese who dare go by different moral values!

Can you imagine the outrage in Europe or America if Africa or Arabs insisted on bigamy as a human right to be observed and enforced against some European host country?

More than a match

Many other political causes attempted to play out in Qatar: the fight over the hijab; disrespect of national anthems of targeted countries; attempts to block certain countries on wrong spectrum of globalised conflicts, and much more! All these sponsored by global leaders who drew up the code for sport, but now finding it convenient to chase and play double standards.

Going forward, it is going to well-nigh impossible to keep politics off sport. Above all, quite difficult to convince the underdog that morality is an ethical proposition, and not a political question steeped in unenlightened national self-interest and self-deviances seeking to be conventionalised.

In this flattening thrust in false morality, we are all expected to acquiesce without a demur or murmur! Clearly more than a match, in which the West seeks to score against only a handful of countries led by Russia, China, Iran, Zimbabwe, Cuba or Venezuela.

The play is against the rest of mankind. To win or to lose, that is the question. Over to you humans; in our donkey world there is consensus!

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