Nations of the World Meet on the Pitch and at the Summit – Revue de Presse 28 Novembre 2022

28 November 2022

As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, their turkey and mashed potatoes are normally accompanied by much-anticipated football games. American football, that is. But this Thursday, the game that the rest of the world calls “football” took center stage as the FIFA World Cup tournament in Qatar began.


Global sporting events, despite claims of being non-political, often become a useful lens through which to look at international tensions, solidarities, and protests. This has been clear during recent (and historical) Olympic Games when host countries’ records regarding political repression (China in 2022), disregard for public health risk (Brazil 2016), or institutionalized cheating (Russia 2014), came under international scrutiny due to their role as hosts. Similarly, the World Cups of late have been embroiled in controversy over everything from mass forced relocation (Brazil again) and allegations of corruption between the organizing body and Russia (also again).


This World Cup has followed in that tradition. Well before the players took the field, the World Cup in Qatar already carried with it an air of scandal starting with allegations of bribery at FIFA led to the country being chosen in the first place. But since the tournament began, the Qatar games have become a stage on which to highlight the country’s human rights abuses including widespread exploitation of migrant labor, longstanding oppression of LGBTQ people, and FIFA’s inability to control its own games (see the scandal over beer). Even individual games, like the match between England and Iran, has led to a flurry of media coverage over ongoing anti-government protests sparked over the latter’s “morality police” and the death of 22 year-old Mahsa Amini.


Meanwhile, global leaders took to a parallel international stage. Heads of state, national delegates, activists, and a remarkable number of lobbyists descended on Egypt for COP27, the annual global climate conference. With “implementation” on the agenda, delegates debated how best to follow through on the ambitious promises and pledges from earlier COP summits. Issues on the table were not only mitigation efforts and adaptation initiatives, but the issue of climate justice when it comes to carbon emissions, environmental responsibility, and the consequences of inaction.


One of the major breakthroughs at an otherwise disappointing COP27 was the agreement to establish a “loss and damage” fund. The initiative would be financed by the world’s richest countries, who are often the biggest polluters, and distributed to countries suffering various forms of disasters as a result of climate change. According to the UN Development Program, “more than US$300 million has been pledged by European Nations,” who are leading the pack in terms of commitments. The creation of such a fund has been pushed by developing countries for decades.


Photo: Rhett Lewis

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