Christmas came early

Christmas came early this year for boys and girls of all ages, and brought extra enjoyment to billions of people all over the world, even those in the twilight of their lives. For a magical month from Nov. 20 to Dec. 18, Santa was not the jolly, somewhat overweight white-bearded senior citizen in the red suit directing operations from the North Pole, but a leaner, shaven-headed man directing operations in much warmer climes of the Persian Gulf.

It was the President of FIFA, Swiss-born Gianni Infantino, in charge of staging the 22nd World Cup. Much criticism was levelled at FIFA when the tiny Arab country of Qatar was chosen to host, and in the winter season to avoid the hottest temperatures in that desert state. The country was never a football powerhouse, although, along with some Gulf neighbours, they had invested huge amounts of petro-dollars to sponsor or own several top teams in European Football Leagues. Big-Money talks in sport, and indeed all other endeavours. Since chosen to be 2022 host-nation 12 years ago, Qatar spent well over US$ 200-billion to transform Doha into a mecca for football fans from all over the world.

Just prior to the World Cup kick-off, there was much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth concerning Qatar’s human rights records, especially since magnificent stadiums and infrastructure had all been built by large imported labour forces from South Asian countries. Under the Kafala System, which has been adopted by many Middle Eastern countries for several decades, host nations have total rights over imported worker’s employment and immigration status.

An English newspaper printed a self-righteous opinion piece about how many construction workers had died in Qatar. Heavy criticism towards the World Cup and Qatar followed from mainly Western European countries, where slave-trading and colonization were a large part of their own recent history. Ironically, the newspaper had overlooked that the industrial deaths spread over a 12-year period were about equal to those recorded annually in comparable work-sites in Germany, for example.

Social justice warriors became quite obsessed with more virtue-signalling concerning homosexuality, gender issues, and alcohol consumption in Qatar’s Sharia Laws. However, despite their dire warnings of doom and gloom, the World Cup tournament went off virtually without a hitch, with ground-breaking tantalizing television technology, sublimely superb sportsmanship, and shining a positive spotlight on Arab footballers as Saudi Arabia and Morocco became giant-killers. Everybody interviewed seemed to enjoy being in Qatar and praised the hospitality of their hosts, and the month's football was spectacular in every way.

Kudos to the 2022’s new Santa, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, with his contingent of 32 international football teams, officials and supporters from all over the world. Fittingly, Sunday’s Final had many magnificent mysterious Messi-Mbappe magical match-up moments which were truly unforgettable as Christmas came early this year.

Merry Christmas And Happy New Year,

Bernie Smith, Parksville

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