In case you had forgotten, let me remind you that it is World Cup year and the team here at TEB HQ have you covered from now until the start of the tournament on June 14 with plenty of build up leading into full coverage of the competition.
Asides from the football which is sure to provide plenty of talking points, Russia is hosting the World Cup this year, yes Russia…
I am hoping you are all aware of how Russia have been getting on in a wider sporting context recently. Let’s just say the last couple of years haven’t been the greatest. But as much as Russia have hogged the negative sporting headlines, it seems FIFA didn’t really take too much notice. After all, we are talking about FIFA here.
It’s best to get straight to the crux of my argument now which is that I am completely against Russia hosting the World Cup this summer. The sporting problems in the country are mounting up, but they still get the chance the hold one of the biggest sporting spectacles in the world, despite having been banned from not one, but two Olympics in the past couple of years.
Surely, I’m not the only person who thinks that is wrong?
The world governing body of the game do not seem to make a distinction about these types of matters. For them, whatever way brings in the dosh is where their heads are at. Sadly, it’s not just Russia that I have a problem with hosting the World Cup. Now, I understand I might be getting slightly ahead of myself here but if you thought Russia had problems, Qatar hosting the World Cup is an entirely different proposition. One we might explore in more depth in four years time.
Qatar does not have problems in a sporting sense like Russia, but there is enough time for that to happen if it were to. What they do have though is shocking human rights problems in the country at the moment. FIFA are not bothered. They seemingly don’t care about workers who are dying in the insane Qatari heat building the stadiums required to host such an event. For them, it’s about where they can generate the most revenue.
Let us not get ahead of ourselves, Qatar in 2022 is a long way off, and Russia is the primary focus here. I was debating whether to reel off a list of reasons why I feel Russia shouldn’t have the luxury of hosting the biggest tournament in football, but what the heck:
- They’ve been found to have run a state-sponsored doping program in Athletics.
- Some Russian athletes were banned from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and more have been banned from the 2018 Winter Games in Pyongyang, South Korea.
- If you’re one for juicy political angles, Russia and the Kremlin have been accused by multiple countries of interfering with elections. In the US, Donald Trump’s connections with Russia are currently under investigation whilst it was claimed that Russia tried to ‘tamper’ with the UK election last year.
- Finally, to compound matters, Russian sport has a serious racism problem that seems to rear its head all too often for my liking.
So there you have it, a list of reasons why the World Cup should not be anywhere near Russia this summer, but I suppose in life you don’t always get your own way.
Before I close, I do want to delve into one of the points above. It is an issue which I am passionate about and that’s doping in sports. I’m not going to go into detail about the state of doping in sport here because I could be a while. However, I do want to put down a few thoughts on Russia’s problems with doping and how I feel it translates considering it is a World Cup year.
Firstly, if you’re unaware of what has gone on in the last few years, I’ll briefly bring you up to speed. Russia was found to have had run a state-sponsored doping program for its athletes. This was unchecked for quite a while before some superb reporting and courageous whistleblowers stepped forward and put it into the public domain. That then sent forth a chain of events which saw some Russian athletes being banned from Rio 2016 and now more recently the 2018 Winter Games.
All the while, top officials in Russia continue to deny it was a state-sponsored doping program. It’s a very interesting story and I’d urge you to go and read up on it – there’s been some cracking stuff on the subject in the media over the past couple of years.
So with Russia having now been ousted for implementing a state-sponsored doping program, that alone should leave you wondering why Russia should get the chance to stage this huge sporting event.
From a sporting context, it’s clear to see that their sporting morals are all wrong. And before I continue I totally get that doping is part and parcel of every sport, and if you don’t believe that, quite frankly you’re living in a fantasy world.
In saying that, why should a country that has so clearly broken the rules in recent years have this opportunity of hosting what is the biggest event in football?
Asides from the well documented sporting problems in Russia, we cannot look past the fact that it’s a country that has other bigger problems, completely separate from sport. And that’s something that makes me slightly uneasy about what we might expect this summer.