as clueless as ever

for the love of football

Saturday morning rapture. Throwing money to the river. Shame on FIFA. It's all in the rondo. Take a chance to be great.

Alborz Mirzaie

30 June 2022 · 5 MIN READ

The equivalent to your Sunday morning church was my Saturday morning footy; in many respects this was similar to your average congregation. Sins of one’s being, whether it be the gorging of food, selfish/misanthropic attitudes, or the fogginess of mind emerging from an inauthentic existence, were all made manifest on the field. You would see mass submission to the common dance, a harmony composed under a shared purpose. Our skills and skin colored the field well, from Polish, Chinese, and Persian, to Mexican, American, and Jamaican (but it’s been awhile since the Jamaicans have come). This most recent Saturday came a young Congolese man, Sartre, who, when looking at our dismayed team struggling to maintain our advantage, amidst the muggy heat, called out to me in his thick accent: “Hey! We must enjoy this beautiful day!” In all honesty, it motivated me for no more than 5 minutes; the dry air, coupled with this recent state of chubbiness, were becoming too much to bear.

No doubt all of us, among a billion of our other compañeros humanos, at the tail end of this autumn, will be watching this year’s World Cup. Qatar, with a population of 3 million people, is expecting more than 1.2 million tourists during the month of the games, which precipitated a decade long $220 billion (for now) infrastructure package. For context, here are the World Cup hosting costs of years past: 2018 Russia - $11.6 billion, 2014 Brazil - $15 billion (incurred by the Brazilian tax payers, a classic example of socializing the costs while privatizing the benefits), 2010 South Africa - $3.6 billion, and 1994 United Stated - $500 million. Over a decade ago, K’naan released Wavin’ Flag, which was subsequently re-written for the games in South Africa; take a listen to it, preferably the original lyrics. With a bucket nearby in case you vomit, contrast that with this year’s World Cup song; a song like this is created via a set of talented musicians who were subjected to plug themselves into a grey, dull factory to have their souls sapped as energy generators.

Shame is an emotion I wish to spare on others and experience less of; it's organizations like FIFA that are making this incredibly hard to do so. I can assert, with the comfort of a thousand pillows, that any of my Saturday morning friends would have been strong enough to decline any bribe they came across. Hopefully most bribes in the very least.

There have been many calls for a Manhattan Project anew. The Qatar National Vision 2030 is their attempt to modernize the country, to find some ground of economic and environmental sustainability for their nation. It is in all likelihood that all the Qataris who had a modicum of sense left in their heads had already fled their country; I’m deathly curious as to how their new islands, hotels, and (among other extravagances) theme parks will fare in an energy unsubsidized economy. Someone should remind them that over 90% of their food supply is imported.

Even in granting their unrealized achievements, it could never justify the 6,700+ confirmed deaths (thus far), nor the inhumanity of the Kafala system continued to be practiced by private sector actors. One would also pray that whatever collaboration FIFA and the WHO have in protecting the Qataris and tourists from mass infection, that it turns out to be a sound and precautionary one. The 16 cities across the North American continent where the 2026 World Cup games will be played were recently revealed. Those wise, now emigrated Qataris would see this as a fantastic opportunity to show the world the innovative nature of our species: imagine a similar, Manhattan Project-type funding package, but this time with a Retro-Suburbia bent. And, most definitely, not in the chosen, affluent host cities, but in adjacent, more needing ones.

The rondo shown below is an exercise from Johan Cruyff's shine on the sport, which can radically improve your game.

The dawn of summer dovetails well with talks of games like chess and football; I find them to be worthy distractions from the formalities of modern life, worthy in that both taught me much about morality and the importance of having dignity to oneself. Why should you learn football? So you can reciprocate that warm feeling you get when someone unexpectedly speaks your mother tongue, but this time with a dance. More, so you can return a sense of composure to your being, which was skewed by your encounter with a traditional education, such that you can re-learn to think with your body. There is a dark, no less great, a chaotic, no less sharp, source of intellect and intuition lying dormant within you. Try less to find idols in the sport, for the only peace to find is in its play.