Is it really a World Cup?

“The World Cup is not just a great global sporting event, it is also inscribed with much deeper cultural and political importance.” – Martin Jacques

Whether you have an interest in soccer or not, the game in many ways can be seen as a measure of a country’s sense of humanity. There has been much controversy over the host country’s right to hold the final of this once-universal competition and there is little doubt that corruption and self-interest have played a decisive part in its successful bid. This tiny, independent, sovereign state of Qatar, noted for its arid desert, futuristic skyscrapers and population of just under three million, mostly Muslim souls with little history of playing the game of soccer, does not immediately spring to mind when considering sports of any kind.

Yet, I argue that we should for once brush aside the obvious wrongs and consider the benefits of such a choice of venue. The rulers and population of this state have desired to be part of this global game with most of the trappings that come with it. It has opened its borders (and minds) to outside influences that may or may not bear fruit in years to come, but at the very least it has given the wider Arab World a common focus for acceptance by this world’s vastly differing cultures. Did not the 2002 World Cup held in South Korea and Japan showcase the skills of the Asian players as did the 2012 World Cup in South Africa for those on the continent of Africa and are not many from their nations now starring in teams throughout Europe and the Americas?

Being granted the privilege to compete in the soccer World Cup or any recognised universal sporting event is a measure of a nation’s acceptance by the rest. On 20th July 2021, the Session of the International Olympic Committee approved a change in the Olympic motto that recognises the unifying power of sport and the importance of solidarity. “Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together”.

It is encouraging that even Russia, one of the more powerful soccer nations in the world, has been given the RED CARD and is shunned by the majority of world communities after its illegitimate invasion of Ukraine. Denying a country and its government the right to take part in any world event because of its behaviour is a strong and simple message and not only sets down a marker but is one that its population cannot ignore. “Сила есть, ума не надо.” Russian proverb.

Worryingly, China has a similar authoritarian government to that in Moscow and has designs on Taiwan. Previously known as Formosa, the island is officially described as the Republic of China, though its government and population overwhelmingly have no desire to be ruled by the mainland government. Surely the world won’t be plunged into yet another catastrophic scenario because of one man’s ideology? If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we have to tackle this world’s problems together and not be distracted or divisive. 当变革之风吹来时,有些人建造墙壁,其他人建造风车。Chinese proverb.

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The consequence of an over-ambitious nine-mile ramble a couple of weeks ago resulted in a very sore left foot. Taking things easy by remaining as inactive as possible and remaining mostly within the confines of Willow Bank, my only foray into the outside world was after watching the England v New Zealand game in the garden room with Sean and Paul. Afterwards, we chose to celebrate an unexpected 25:25 scoreline by walking to Venetos for an Italian meal, following that up with further refreshments at the nearby Red Cow. In all, it was less than a mile of steps but it, unfortunately, reset my foot back to the pain levels of the previous week. Will I never learn?

The country’s morale was given a huge moral boost when in their opening games of the World Cup, England trounced Iran 7:2 and Wales drew 1:1 against a good USA team. Depressingly, as seems the way on this little island, its national sporting teams appear to enjoy building up the hopes of its population only to dash it on the rocks of despair. Just a few short days later and after two dismal performances,  Wales lost 2: to Iran and England drew 1:1 against a more motivated USA side.

Ouch!

Ouch!!!

On the 26th Nov. I, along with a large bunch of friends watched the England v South Africa rugby game in the garden room. It was another painful performance from the boys in white, who were ominously brushed aside by a powerful opposition. Afterwards, the three of us walked into town and eased our disappointment with a splendid meal in the only Chinese restaurant left in Harborough. We further drowned our sorrow with another visit to the Red Cow. Just a few hours later on Sunday afternoon, the three of us were making our way to Leicester to watch the Tigers take on London Irish after being gifted three corporate tickets for the game. After a sumptuous three-course pre-match meal and appropriate refreshments, we took our seats to witness the Tigers narrowly defeat their opponents 33:31 in a high-energy contest that had moments of brilliance from both sides. Half times snacks of a selection of cheese and crackers with chocolate brownies were later followed by full-time sausage rolls and curry pies. The hospitality at Leicester Tigers is second to none and is most certainly one of the reasons that the club is the most supported in the Premiership.

On the 28th I was intending to pick up Jamie from Waltham on the Wold and take him for an afternoon appointment at the fracture clinic at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.  However, on attempting to drive my Fiesta out of the garage, the brakes on the rear wheels had seized on and refused to turn no matter how much I revved the engine. The previous week I had driven through a flooded road in the Welland Valley and had not used the car since. As there was no time to call out a mechanic I used Sue’s Mini Clubman instead.  I collected Jamie but on arriving at the hospital, the queue was so long to get into the carpark that by the time I had let him out of the car at the main entrance and parked, made my way to the clinic waiting room, he had finished. The diagnosis was that the fracture is healing well and he will receive another appointment in four weeks for an x-ray.

birthday boy

In other news, Lee had an early birthday treat by Sarah with a visit to London and Westminster.

“When one has power, they don’t have a need for intelligence.” Russian proverb translation.

When the winds of change blows, some people build walls and others build windmills.” Chinese proverb translation.

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” English proverb that doesn’t need a translation.

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