December 14, 2010

Celibate World Cup

It's still twelve years in the future, but I can't understand how the World Cup in Qatar could possibly be a success. I'm already baffled that a sport whose biggest fans come from Western Europe and South America -- none of whom are shy about drinking booze while partying and cheering on their teams -- would be asked to go to Qatar, a tiny nation dominated by Puritanical moral laws concerning alcohol to watch the World Cup. These are people who are going to want to drink while they party and cheer and sing.

And it gets worse -- gay fans have just been asked by international soccer's governing body to refrain from having sex while in Qatar to cheer on their teams. Which brings to mind the fact that Qatar's next door neighbor, Saudi Arabia, still has the death sentence on the books for sodomy -- a punishment which is still actually enforced from time to time. I don't know if Qatar imposes the death penalty for sodomy and it's reasonable to assume that Qatar's morals police will be asked to relax their enforcement during the tournament. But what's going on here is not soccer expanding its audience into a new region; it's shining a spotlight on the shortcomings of the nations in question.

Now, Qatar beat out other nations, most notably including the United States, for hosting the Cup. I hate being a sore loser about that despite the fact that our bid was clearly superior to Qatar's, but here's the fact: gay soccer fans from around the world, you're obviously not welcome in Qatar. But you (and your money) are welcome here in the USA! Please plan on coming in 2022. You'll find plenty of friendly fellow soccer fans here,* some great places to eat, and lots of fun things to do in between games. Your money is welcome here; if you're over 21 years of age, you can have a beer or wine or a cocktail if you feel like it; and unlike your would-be Qatari hosts, our law enforcement authorities don't care what you do behind closed doors with other consenting adults.

* Yes, we call football "soccer," which is what the English used to call it. We have our own kind of football, too, which if you learn a thing or two about it, you might enjoy. Some Brits, however, think of themselves as very clever for claiming that our sport should be called "hand egg." They are incorrect.

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