Football is not just a game today, it is a religion to many. The spirit it instills, the character it brings out, and the togetherness it creates at the world stage, is just exemplary. Surprisingly, this spirit is being forcefully driven into politics.
FIFA, a body responsible for the governance of sports laws, looks like it might have some serious plans with Saudi Arabia towards combining the two aspects while destroying the whole charm of the game worldwide.
As Saudi Arabia took to center stage on 14th June 2018 for its first FIFA World cup match, there was an air of expectation that the nation, which has so dynamically created an image of matching the footsteps of the western world, would actually implement it.
Saudi Behind Closed Doors
There is nothing new to the concept of critics. Even at the ongoing FIFA World Cup Russia, British teams have already been fined thousands for wearing poppies on their shirts. Similarly, with the commentators who are supposed to remain neutral, former Liverpool player Danny Murphy was criticized following his reference to England team as ‘we’, while he was reporting to the UK audience.
So, what does this all has to with Saudi Arabia, because if Saudi Arabia are only criticizing and pointing fingers at the system, we should rather be open to change and accept it.
Turki-al-sheikh, the Saudi Sports Minister is presently working with his friends to set up SWAFF (South West Asian Football Federation), and it has been announced that the government of Riyadh will help grow and resource soccer program in the region. Interestingly, the list of countries that are shortlisted to join SWAFF includes, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Maldives, Oman, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
However, this does not include its ally Qatar, who have been facing blockade for more than a year. Now, if sporting spirits are to be maintained the way FIFA looks at it, the Saudi Sports Minister must keep the political issues aside. Also, Qatar is to host the next edition of the FIFA World Cup and understanding how each federation works, it is clear that they get together before big events like world cup and vote for or against the event. So, if SWAFF holds the key to decision making, Qatar should legally be a part of it.
Recently while bidding for the hosting rights of World Cup 2026, Morocco was continuously backed by Russia, but not by the fellow Arab Country, who continuously backed USA. Thereby, once again proving that political relationships hold the key and sporting spirit to this nation is nothing, but a piece of trash.
FIFA, therefore must step in to ensure that spirits are not affected by the political games and Saudi Arabia on their part must stop creating a fake image of modernization in front of the world and let the sporting spirits remain high.