OWhen I grew up, the World Cup always seemed to be the pinnacle of football. Sticker albums, wallcharts, the opportunity to relive the greatest moments while having fun with friends. Trying to replicate Ray Houghton’s strike against Italy in 1994; Dennis Bergkamp’s ridiculous pull down and volley against Argentina in ’98; or, for when you really didn’t want to be in goal, David Seaman’s desperate loss to Brazil in 2002.
Although I wasn’t a bad player, the dawning realization that I would never come close to making it professionally didn’t diminish my enthusiasm as a fan, or my interest in finding a football-related career. In college, I sat in the Lincoln City press box covering games, and eventually found myself working on one of the oldest and most successful football video games – the one I had played religiously since my teenage years.
As part of my job, I basically get paid to watch and keep up to date with football. I love the stats, the tactics, and seeing the next prodigy become a household name. A World Cup is a great time for the studio. There are matches on every TV in the office, a fantasy football competition and an incredibly complicated draw. Retro international shirts are becoming the go-to fashion style and every meeting kicks off with conversations about previous days’ matches. Outside of work, I usually watched matches with friends at the pub or had entire weekends spent watching every match, sometimes on multiple screens. We would have WhatsApp groups filled with messages, gifs and the latest hilarious meme.
But from the start, Qatar 2022 felt different. Reading that 17 of the 22 FIFA executives involved in the vote on Qatar’s bid to host have since been banned or charged over corruption allegations casts a dark shadow. It gave me the same sense of helplessness I felt after hearing the lies about Brexit or the VIP lanes of PPE during the pandemic. I hated the idea of being somehow complicit in supporting the World Cup – especially one that would have been built on the deaths of migrant workers.
When I told my partner that I was considering boycotting the tournament, she told me not to focus on whether it would make a difference, but to think about what would happen if everyone who felt that did what I was ready to do. Maybe it’s just that, due to lack of interest, she wisely took advantage of an opening to stop a lot of football on TV, but whatever her motives, I decided to boycott.
I didn’t watch anything, not even the best moments. I scrolled through social media posts and ignored match reports. Being able to work remotely made it easier to miss the games and the excitement that took hold in our office. With my friends, we tore our heads a little at first, but they accepted my decision. Still, I felt the conversations seem to fizzle out when I mentioned I wasn’t watching, as if they all felt a little awkward about it. With my colleagues, I felt a little embarrassed to admit what I was doing, given that so much of what we do revolves around top-flight football.
Now that the World Cup is coming to an end, I definitely feel like I cut off my nose to upset my face. It wasn’t so much England’s trip that bothered me, but the clashes of Saudi Arabia beating Argentina, Japan overturning Germany and Morocco’s breakthrough run. One of the hardest things was talking to my dad on the phone. As I’m sure many parents and their children do, one of the main topics of conversation we have is sports. That shared experience disappeared because of my choice, and I felt like he didn’t really understand why I was doing it.
What difference can one person make? I’m sure the BBC and ITV won’t miss a single viewer, and Fifa has already sold millions of TV rights for the North American World Cup in 2026. Still, I’m proud to have stuck to my principles and do it again. .
I was not completely starved of football. I was still able to watch Oxford’s League 1 games via iFollow. However, the less said about the camera work for their goal against Accrington, the better. At least I missed England’s draw against USA and Harry Kane’s penalty.
Source : BBN WORLD NEWS