At the very outset, the holding of FIFA World Cup in Qatar was criticised and ridiculed on one count or the other. Now when the tournament actually kicked off and European and American countries started losing some matches to African and Asian nations, another excuse was cooked up, observes Soroor Ahmed who also explains such cooked-up excuses in the field of soccer.

A sort of civilizational war has erupted after the victory of a couple of North African teams over their European counterparts in the FIFA World Cup being hosted by Qatar.

When Japan beat powerful German and Spanish teams, there was no rioting in Germany and Spain though there was certainly a sense of shock as the Europeans are far better in the field of soccer.

Similarly, when Saudi Arabia humbled another footballing giant, Argentina, no untoward incident took place.

But when Morocco crushed Belgium, there was rioting in Belgium and even the Netherlands. It was said that Belgians were upset over the manner in which the Moroccan fans living in these two European countries were celebrating the victory of their team. Once again, the same question arose: why should they go out of control in celebrating the victory when these Moroccans are living in Europe? But these questions can be asked from the European fans as they too indulge in similar display of footballing nationalism.

However, the situation was soon brought under control with not much damage.

It is not that violence over soccer match has not taken place in Europe, or anywhere else in the world in the past. Not to speak of matches between different countries, but even matches between clubs have sparked off riots. Often, they have led to casualties.

But this time the scenario is somewhat different. Along with the football competition of global level, a clash of civilization is going on. The matter is not only confined to Africa, but the entire Middle East – from Iran to Morocco.

First, at the very outset, the holding of FIFA World Cup in Qatar was criticised and ridiculed on one count or the other. Now when the tournament actually kicked off and European and American countries started losing some matches to African and Asian nations, another excuse was cooked up.

After the loss of every match at the hands of any Middle East country, these western teams would either blame referee, or foul plays or excessive heat for the adverse result. But when they would win, they would say nothing. So, when the USA beat Iran 1-0, President Joe Biden screamed in excitement, but when Iran downed Wales, footballing legend from Germany and Welsh coach Jurgen Klinsmann blamed Iranian players and referee for indulging in unfair play. He did not stop there but questioned the culture of Iranian players. The Iranian Football Federation strongly denounced these remarks.

It is being propagated that the western teams are unable to bear the hot temperature; when the fact is that the World Cup this time is taking place in winter and proper arrangements have been made to keep the over-all temperature cool. What is forgotten is that in Europe and North America, the World Cup is always organised in summer. And in this era of global warming the temperature in summer often touches 40 degree C, that is higher than what is now in Qatar. When the World Cup was held in the USA in 1994, the temperature in several venues was very humid.

This is not the first time that the West has indulged in childish behaviour during any sporting event. They stripped Mohammad Ali of the World Boxing Championship title some 50 years back. Ali was convicted for five years when he refused to join the US army and fight a wholly unjustified war against Vietnam. However, his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court.

The truth is that they did so because Mohammad Ali was a Black who had converted to Islam. This happened in the greatest democracy of the world.

The Australian cricket team is notorious for sledging and using abusive and racist language.

Is it not a fact that former Australian cricketer-turned-commentator, Dean Jones, while doing commentary, once yelled, “The terrorist has taken the catch” when gentleman-player of South Africa, Hashim Amla, took a very good catch. African and Asian footballers or even cricketers playing for the west had to undergo such treatment quite often. When German star Mesut Ozil used to perform well, the Germans would applaud him as their own, but when he could not come up to the mark, he would be accused as a Turkish migrant. This is just one example.

Now that the several African and Asian teams of the Middle East are gradually improving their performance, the Europeans, in particular, are not ready to digest it. With money power, they are now able to woo back migrant talents from Europe. They are hiring reputed coaches and training budding youths.

The problem with the western establishment is that they refuse to tolerate the rise of any other country even in the field of sports. However, there are still balanced people there who do not indulge in such behaviours. But their number is small. They paid glorious tributes to Ali when he died.

On the other hand, Arabian/Muslim nationalism was at display when Morocco and Senegal entered the second round and when Tunisia defeated France 1-0.

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