The beautiful game made ugly

Sportswashing at Qatar

England face Iran in their first World Cup game. The human rights violations currently taking place in Iran are horrific. Yet, due to strict FIFA rules, the game will almost certainly go ahead. And the Qatar World Cup as a whole is awash with controversy, from the thousands that have died building the stadiums to the lack of women’s and gay rights in Qatar. But once the whistle blows, whether we like it or not, the power of sport will almost certainly make us forget all this, writes Emily Ryall.


Football is the most global of sports. It is played in every country, across all inhabited continents, by men, women, adults and children. Part of this is due to the simplicity of the sport, it involves a ball that gets kicked towards a goal that is defended. It can be played on grass, concrete, dust, and sand; indoors and out. It requires minimal technology (jumpers for goalposts!) and therefore is one of the most equitable games around. This is why it has spread

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