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Winners and losers in the 2018 World Cup

In a World Cup there is no right or wrong. It is all about winning and staying, or losing and leaving. However, we all know that losing  is always worse. After Germany’s unexpected exit, things are getting very inconvenient for Mesut Özil who did not only pose with Erdogan but also underperformed in the last-year-winner team. But this was just one of the surprises; Argentina, out - yes, at some point even Messi failed a penalty kick-, Brasil, out - Neymar did not even show up at the airport.

Unfortunately, only European teams have made it to the finale, making the European Commission claim victory for the European Union. Croatia, Belgium, France. And England, yes! Probably that was the final stab for Boris Johnson, who could not stand another second in the British government!

This 2018 tournament is being held in Russia and although you may be thinking that Croatia or France will win, the real winners of this World Cup are beer sellers, the video assistant referees and authoritarian regimes. The ones losing hard are women, as statistic shows that domestic violence increases after every match, migrants, who sometimes work in unsafe conditions to meet the infrastructure ambitions,  national minorities, as sports at times also fuels nationalism,the already marginalized communities in the host country and the environment, given the massive carbon footprint.

Placing the World Cup in Russia is legitimizing the human rights abuses by the tsarist head of state, a.k.a, President Putin. The LGBT+ community, human rights defenders and journalists are in danger and not welcomed. But the truth is that FIFA has long started a dangerous path by sitting next to abusers or overlooking social injustice in the host country.

When in 2022 the World Cup will be held in Qatar, will women be able to join? Or will they be able to dress as they like? And will we be able to support feminists in Qatar fighting for emancipation while not forgetting our own shortcomings in Europe? 

As FYEG we stand for the emancipatory power of sports to transcend borders, genders and identities and build resilient local communities. Sport can be a major tool for integration of new Europeans or marginalized youth into mainstream society and a means for women’s empowerment. Yet major sports events far more often only further disadvantage those who are already at the losing end. As we celebrate the World Cup winners this weekend, let’s make sure we are also loud and clear against the abusers. For sports and against racism, fascism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and any other form of oppression!