England just beat Iran 6-2 in the football. One of the big questions is what were the defence doing. England v Iran is a bit like me versus a plate of sandwiches. There is really only going to be one outcome (though I would have said that about Iceland at one time). However, it’s not the biggest question, is it? The biggest question is why, after excusing ourselves for playing in Qatar, with all it’s perceived faults, are we playing Iran. They currently have two women awaiting execution for supporting LGBT people and for attempting to help them escape from Iran. Not for being gay, but merely for supporting people who are. We banned Russia from various sports for state-sponsored doping and for invading Ukraine, but we are happy play a country that kills people for supporting the human rights of others.
But don’t worry, our fearless moral crusaders of the England team are going to show their disapproval of the way LGBT people are treated by having the captain wear a special armband. That’ll show them!
Oh, wait, no, it seems FIFA have issued instructions that the captains will be booked if they wear the armband. So that plan has collapsed.
This wasn’t what I’d planned for Part 2, so I’ll now move on to discuss whether we are right to tell other countries how to live.
The question is, what right do we have to lecture other countries on the way they run things, and does it make any difference? Qatar doesn’t tell me I can’t drink in public in the UK, or anything else. Is it right that I should have views on how they conduct themselves at home? Having walked through the streets of Nottingham a few times at night, I’d be happy to ban drinking in public. We can drink in a pub in the UK at the age of 18. The minimum drinking age in the USA is 21 (with minor exceptions in a few states according to Wikipedia). Will we be lobbying the USA to change the drinking laws for football fans?
Interestingly, according to Human Rights Watch, Afghanistan’s marriage laws protect children better than the equivalent laws in America. And recent changes to abortion laws in USA mean many states operate a policy people in the UK would be unhappy with. Will we be raising these issues with the US before the World Cup? I sincerely doubt it. There’s a tendency in the Western world to let other Western countries run themselves as their citizens want. But if you are outside the club we are liable to tell you how you should behave. Unless you have something we want.
It’s a bit like South Africa’s apartheid system when the Chinese were considered “non-White” but the Japanese, Taiwanese and citizens of Hong Kong were all considered “honorary white”, as were West Indian cricketers and Maori New Zealanders when on sports tours.
And there we are – back to politics and sport. Do they mix? Should we lecture other countries on how to live their lives? (And don’t feel singled out if you live in the USA, it’s just that you are one of the hosts of the next FIFA World Cup and I know a bit more about you than I do about Canada and Mexico).
More swan photos. Tomorrow I will stop being serious and go back to moaning about trivia.