Anthony McIntyre 🏴‍☠️ Beginning with the 1970 World Cup final in Mexico, as a 12 year old, I have watched every tournament. 

It is a form of ritualised devotion, not unlike the observance religiously adhered to by many Catholics when they dutifully attend the Novena in Clonard Monastery year after year. 

The cynic in me is bursting to say that at least my devotion is to something real. The Catholic might retort that there is not much real about this World Cup, pointing to the fraudulent way in which it was gifted to the host Qatar. The Catholic would have a point.

The following tournament I began watching as a sixteen year old teenager in Crumlin Road prison, turning 17 during it. The Netherlands lost and I was disappointed. The Dutch were the team of the competition by far.

On a couple of occasions I was taken right to the wire by the prison regime, just managing to watch the 1978 final staged in Argentina four days before I lost my political status and was delivered into the cruel custody of the H-Blocks. I knew at the time that Argentina under its military dictatorship had an atrocious human rights record and would use the event to project a benign image across the globe. I watched it anyway and rooted for the host side throughout. So engrossed was I that when the Netherlands hit the woodwork in the final, with only seconds remaining of normal time, I almost succumbed to premature heart failure. 

For years after that I never saw or listened to a game of any sort, nor read a match report. All television, radio and newspapers were denied to the Blanketmen as criminals in peaked cap uniform unsuccessfully tried to force into another uniform people who were not criminals. Prison uniform would be worn by the screws, not by us. 

Fortunately my sojourn on the blanket protest was sandwiched in between the Argentine and Spain finals. The 1982 tournament we watched in fits and starts. Much of it depended on whether we were out of the cells on the alternate day roster introduced by prison management post-blanket but while we were still officially Non-Conforming Prisoners. NCP was the term the regime tagged onto us and ran as a binary opposite to management's preferred prisoner, the ODCs - Ordinary Decent Criminals. The main concession was that NCPs and ODCs alike got to watch the final between Italy and West Germany.

By 1986, what we did not see we could listen to on the radio in our cells. That was my last World Cup final in prison. The highlight of the competition apart from Maradona's super goal was Pat Livingstone's response to it. He lay prostrate on his back in front of the English screw manning the gate, arms and legs moving in sync in some form of upside down doggie paddle, cackling and gloating.

I was still a prisoner for the 1990 World Cup but managed to be out on a week's parole and watched the final in the Rose and Crown pub in the Lower Ormeau Road. A disappointing Argentina were dragged into the final by the dogged determination of Maradona. But even he could not overcome the Germans on Italian turf. 

With jail behind me, all future World Cup tournaments were viewed in the comfort of my own home or the pub. Since 2010 I have watched them almost exclusively in the company of my son, as avid about soccer as myself. So, when I didn't go in for today's opening game he told me he couldn't believe that I was depriving myself of a feast of football. I was told that it is what we live for during each four year cycle; it was our last chance to watch Messi and Ronaldo grace the pinnacle of world soccer; I would suffer severe withdrawal symptoms having to wait until Christmas to watch soccer again. All his cajoling failed to persuade me. I simply explained I had no interest in watching any of the Qatar games. 

He is 17 so I don't expect him to closely follow the associated politics. Nor had I the remotest interest in virtue signalling to him. I am happy for him to do what he has done since he was five.

Greasing the right palms had won Qatar the right to host World Cup 2022. Much of the grease had been derived from the sweat of exploited workers who had the job of constructing the stadia and associated infrastructure. It is simply impossible to overlook:

the questions around the voting process where Qatar won its bid and the corrupt FIFA officials at their centre, the treatment of migrant workers who have allegedly died by the thousands while the stadiums were being built, and the lack of LGBTQ rights in the country.

Not watching the World Cup is like a Catholic refraining from Holy Communion after a lifetime of receiving it. I don't even know if I will stick it out - my son let me know during today's game that he missed my company. There was me thinking he would have enjoyed the quietude afforded him by the absence of a grumpy dad who sighs, effs, blinds, and shakes his fist or flips the bird in the direction of the television screen.  Surely, he cannot be experiencing invective cold turkey.

It is hard to take to a game with any enthusiasm when the same sort of institutionalised othering of gay people that is endemic in Qatar was so manifest overnight in Colorado where a gunman consumed with hatred or perhaps Christian love - if there is a difference, I am unaware of it - shot dead five people in a gay club. Qatar's state religion is Islam, which can be every bit as wedded to hate theology as US Dominionism and Christian nationalism.

If I opt to watch any games with my son, it will be because I have relented not repented. Hate theology should be given no quarter. That should have worked out as no Qatar.

⏩ Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre

No Qatar

Anthony McIntyre 🏴‍☠️ Beginning with the 1970 World Cup final in Mexico, as a 12 year old, I have watched every tournament. 

It is a form of ritualised devotion, not unlike the observance religiously adhered to by many Catholics when they dutifully attend the Novena in Clonard Monastery year after year. 

The cynic in me is bursting to say that at least my devotion is to something real. The Catholic might retort that there is not much real about this World Cup, pointing to the fraudulent way in which it was gifted to the host Qatar. The Catholic would have a point.

The following tournament I began watching as a sixteen year old teenager in Crumlin Road prison, turning 17 during it. The Netherlands lost and I was disappointed. The Dutch were the team of the competition by far.

On a couple of occasions I was taken right to the wire by the prison regime, just managing to watch the 1978 final staged in Argentina four days before I lost my political status and was delivered into the cruel custody of the H-Blocks. I knew at the time that Argentina under its military dictatorship had an atrocious human rights record and would use the event to project a benign image across the globe. I watched it anyway and rooted for the host side throughout. So engrossed was I that when the Netherlands hit the woodwork in the final, with only seconds remaining of normal time, I almost succumbed to premature heart failure. 

For years after that I never saw or listened to a game of any sort, nor read a match report. All television, radio and newspapers were denied to the Blanketmen as criminals in peaked cap uniform unsuccessfully tried to force into another uniform people who were not criminals. Prison uniform would be worn by the screws, not by us. 

Fortunately my sojourn on the blanket protest was sandwiched in between the Argentine and Spain finals. The 1982 tournament we watched in fits and starts. Much of it depended on whether we were out of the cells on the alternate day roster introduced by prison management post-blanket but while we were still officially Non-Conforming Prisoners. NCP was the term the regime tagged onto us and ran as a binary opposite to management's preferred prisoner, the ODCs - Ordinary Decent Criminals. The main concession was that NCPs and ODCs alike got to watch the final between Italy and West Germany.

By 1986, what we did not see we could listen to on the radio in our cells. That was my last World Cup final in prison. The highlight of the competition apart from Maradona's super goal was Pat Livingstone's response to it. He lay prostrate on his back in front of the English screw manning the gate, arms and legs moving in sync in some form of upside down doggie paddle, cackling and gloating.

I was still a prisoner for the 1990 World Cup but managed to be out on a week's parole and watched the final in the Rose and Crown pub in the Lower Ormeau Road. A disappointing Argentina were dragged into the final by the dogged determination of Maradona. But even he could not overcome the Germans on Italian turf. 

With jail behind me, all future World Cup tournaments were viewed in the comfort of my own home or the pub. Since 2010 I have watched them almost exclusively in the company of my son, as avid about soccer as myself. So, when I didn't go in for today's opening game he told me he couldn't believe that I was depriving myself of a feast of football. I was told that it is what we live for during each four year cycle; it was our last chance to watch Messi and Ronaldo grace the pinnacle of world soccer; I would suffer severe withdrawal symptoms having to wait until Christmas to watch soccer again. All his cajoling failed to persuade me. I simply explained I had no interest in watching any of the Qatar games. 

He is 17 so I don't expect him to closely follow the associated politics. Nor had I the remotest interest in virtue signalling to him. I am happy for him to do what he has done since he was five.

Greasing the right palms had won Qatar the right to host World Cup 2022. Much of the grease had been derived from the sweat of exploited workers who had the job of constructing the stadia and associated infrastructure. It is simply impossible to overlook:

the questions around the voting process where Qatar won its bid and the corrupt FIFA officials at their centre, the treatment of migrant workers who have allegedly died by the thousands while the stadiums were being built, and the lack of LGBTQ rights in the country.

Not watching the World Cup is like a Catholic refraining from Holy Communion after a lifetime of receiving it. I don't even know if I will stick it out - my son let me know during today's game that he missed my company. There was me thinking he would have enjoyed the quietude afforded him by the absence of a grumpy dad who sighs, effs, blinds, and shakes his fist or flips the bird in the direction of the television screen.  Surely, he cannot be experiencing invective cold turkey.

It is hard to take to a game with any enthusiasm when the same sort of institutionalised othering of gay people that is endemic in Qatar was so manifest overnight in Colorado where a gunman consumed with hatred or perhaps Christian love - if there is a difference, I am unaware of it - shot dead five people in a gay club. Qatar's state religion is Islam, which can be every bit as wedded to hate theology as US Dominionism and Christian nationalism.

If I opt to watch any games with my son, it will be because I have relented not repented. Hate theology should be given no quarter. That should have worked out as no Qatar.

⏩ Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre

10 comments:

  1. Imagine pulling alcohol out at the last minute of the world's biggest sporting event. I heard the English fans are already in the shit for shouting " Get your face out for the lads".

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    Replies
    1. That is one of their wittier chants!!

      I spoke to my son about it this morning and he said he couldn't watch the end of the first game it was so boring. he commented yesterday that an Ecuador clear goal was ruled offside and the commentators were saying dodgy decision FIFA.

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    2. Name one qatarai player. Fucked if I can. This competition adds nothing to football.

      Delete
  2. Gary Neville said that if the World Cup is a "world" cup then a muslim country and a middle eastern country had to host it. Infantino said that given the west's history in the middle east, FIFA and Qatar would take no criticism from westerners. Thoughts?

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    Replies
    1. If it is a world cup then the fans of the world should be made welcome and citizenship of the global community trumps local custom, not the other way round. Infantino's comments on feeling gay might have him jailed in Qatar.

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    2. Gary Neville can shove it up his hole. A World Cup is supposed to unite nations not sportwash sharia law human rights abusers just because they've the cash to line the pockets. I can honestly say I've flown around the world and been to many places but whe Qatar was announced I'd no fucking clue where it was. Fuck sake just watching the opening ceremony and there's a bunch of Arabs hollering and waving big fuck aff swords around...can you imagine if the yanks did similar with AR15s at the next world cup?

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. The link didn't open!, this should.....

    Looks like England are playing Irish Republicans today

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    1. 7 of the 11 working for the English then!!LOL

      Delete
  5. Cam Comments

    The only issues I have with holding the world cup in Qatar is how the fuck someone came up with the idea that holding a football tournament in a fuck’n desert would be a brilliant idea and to do it in the middle of the Premiership season especially when my beloved little ‘Saturday Night Specials’...the Gunners, are top of the fuck’n table. Are you serious Infantino!!!!!!!!!!!!

    All the other issues are extremely as important but as you state AM about Argentina and we can easily extend that to include quite a few countries who held the world cup, including European countries -
    corruption at FIFA over all of the years had led to where it finds itself at odds with current political thought and civil understanding but it must also impact on the decisions of those professional players who are gay but haven’t come out yet. What are they thinking now of FIFA especially since they intended to penalise captains who wear the armbands? Never thought that any of them would have gone through with it to begin with - nearly as bad as deadlines at Stormont!

    Kane and the rest of the countries squads should all have turned up with the armbands on and defied FIFA. If their whole squads wear them, then after two games the whole squad would be banned and no games could be played - how embarrassing would that be to FIFA. Fuck, Iran or Qatar could end up in the final - bookies' dream come true!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete