The Fifa Women’s World Cup came to an end on Sunday, and while much of the focus was on Spain’s victory over England - it struck me that this women’s event was better than the men’s tournament last year.
Last year, Fifa saw fit to host the tournament in Qatar - a country where it is illegal for some people to simply exist. Being homosexual is against the law in the Middle Eastern nation. In contrast, the latest Women’s World Cup was held in Australia and New Zealand where inclusion is encouraged.
At the Women’s World Cup, there were around 100 openly LGBTQ+ players across the tournament’s 32 teams. In contrast, at the men’s event last year there were no openly gay players.
And yet, Fifa sees no problem here. In fact, that lovely man Gianni Infantino - who is the president of Fifa - said that women needed “to pick the right fight” ahead of Sunday’s final.
‘He had the nerve to say that’
He then had the audacity to inform the media in attendance for the press conference that he had “four daughters”. What exactly was he trying to infer with that statement? He can’t be sexist because he has four daughters? Sounds a lot like “I can’t be racist because I have black friends.”
To Infantino I say, it’s time to educate yourself.
Back to Qatar 2022, you would have been thrown in jail for any public displays of homosexual affection.
Some, however, argue that a country which is very religious has the right to make its own laws. There’s nothing wrong with freedom of religion, people have the right to believe whatever they want, but that comes with an exception. When an archaic part of religion promotes bigotry or persecution, that part needs to be seriously reconsidered.
As for alcohol in Qatar, there is a zero tolerance for drinking in public and being drunk in public is a crime. However, Fifa were granted special exemption for the sale of alcohol during World Cup games. Obviously Fifa were in danger of losing huge sums of money, and that ensured they secured that lucrative deal.
Clearly it didn’t suit Fifa to make a stand on the LGBTQ+ issue, and nothing was changed for the World Cup. And that’s a crying shame.
Qatar’s neighbour, Saudi Arabia also employs some archaic laws which have affected footballers, or should have.
In Saudi Arabia it’s illegal for an unmarried couple to live together, yet Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for Al Nassr, was allowed to live with his girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez. Perhaps mounting political pressure did play a part too, as the pair are now engaged.
No moral of the story
The moral from that particular story is that you can’t break the law unless you’re a famous men’s footballer, in which case the rules can be bent.
Also, who can forget the incredible performance of Banyana Banyana at the World Cup? The South Africans not only notched up their first win at Fifa World Cup, but also advanced to the round of 16 which was another first.
When last did Bafana Bafana do that? Or when last did Bafana even qualify for a World Cup - over 20 years ago, that’s when (qualifying as hosts in 2010 doesn’t really count).
All things considered, let’s just hope by the next men’s World Cup in 2026, the situation is a little different and hopefully changed for the better. The signs are there that the huge financial gap between the men’s and women’s game can improve, and that alone is cause for optimism.
* The views expressed are not necessarily the views of IOL or Independent Media.
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