“I would be lacking in my ethics if I did not alert my students to the conditions of organization of this Football World Cup”

Mhis position is late but it resonates with questions born in 1978, when as a teenager, I found the calls for a boycott of the World Cup organized in Videla’s Argentina incomprehensible. If I had to choose forty-four years later to be a viewer of the Argentinian World Cup in 1978, what would my reaction be? I’ve no idea.

But on the other hand, I am certain that I will not be able to watch this World Cup in Qatar without having to give up some ideals. As a researcher, I hope to make a political gesture, a militant act, even if it is perceived as such only by myself. The history of football is nevertheless my fundamental object of research.

By not looking at this Qatari edition, I will cut myself off from the immediate history of the evolutions of this “global sports”as characterized by American historian Alan McDougall (Alan McDougall. Contested Fields: A Global History of Modern Football. Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2020).

FIFA facing mistreatment, corruption, collusion

But without outbidding the abundant media publications of recent months, I refuse to watch an event tainted by the mourning of thousands of Pakistani, Filipino or Kenyan workers, and the exploitation of their fellow workers… There is no doubt that children, many of them played a football that they dreamed of any other…

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As a teacher, I would be failing in my ethical commitments if I did not alert my students to the conditions of organization of this World Cup, conceded with good grace to the Qatari leaders by an omnipotent FIFA, whose sole ambition is to make billions. A FIFA that has a good game of clearing itself in the face of accusations of abuse, corruption, collusion… have also contributed the French state and an admired former tricolor footballer.

By claiming to develop educational programs in the most remote regions of the globe, the all-powerful and extremely wealthy international federation is trying to clear itself of this awarding of the Cup to Qatar. However, his actions presented as humanists only represent a small portion of his pharaonic budget and cannot absolve him of other disastrous orientations.

Players subject to the law of an ultra-liberal market

The history of sport and football are dear to me and it is more important for me to inform my students of the social and humanist excesses of this 2022 edition than to give in to the easy and immediate pleasure of following the major matches. I will not encourage any student to follow me on this path, but if I can arouse reflection or even debate among some, it will be a step forward in my eyes.

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