I have thought these days about the concentration camp of Terezin, on the shores of Prague. And what happened there one day in June 1944. Maurice Rossell, a Red Cross delegate, visited that place to write a report. He had begun to transcend what was happening with the Jews. He could hear himself talking about trains and murder. He convinced the Third Reich authorities to let him watch and write.
The train was the first clue. he told me Professor Milslinski, who sitting with me one rainy day was a hundred years old and in 1944 he was already wearing shoes in his twenties. Suddenly, on the outskirts of his town, he saw a train. Then he heard: “They take the Jews away.” But even in that tyranny, what was beginning to be sensed sounded implausible.
So Rossel went to Terezín to investigate. The camp authorities received him with apparent normality. Unbeknownst to him, the Jews had spruced up the jail against time. So much so that it didn’t look like a jail. There was opera, theater… and a football game. Rossell was delighted. The Jews “lived almost normally and were well fed.”
The leaders of the FIFA about the Qataris: “They say that here they stone women, enslave men and persecute homosexuals, but it is not true. They live almost with total normality”.
I have been thinking about Terezín these days because, unlike Rossel, the heads of FIFA knew what was happening in Qatar even before writing their report, which in this case, moreover, takes the form of millionaire contract.
I do not believe that it is effective to isolate the peoples who suffer from totalitarian regimes. Traveling there, doing business with its people and installing our companies in their cities has a positive effect: the society in question sees very closely that another world is possible and autocrats are portrayed.
But that effect is only achieved if conditions are interposed. Some conditions that force, in this case the emirs of Qatar, to enter the world of Human rights. However, far from that being what happens, we are seeing the opposite: stadiums built with slaves and a woman with her face covered to open the dance. The satrapy of Qatar is whitewashed on all televisions in the world in full collusion with FIFA.
Centuries ago God shook hands with money above all things: just look at the Vatican. That was what happened at the opening of the World Cup, when Morgan Freeman –the actor who plays God best– stretched out his finger until it almost touched that of a sheikh, in a dark imitation of the Creation of Miguel Angel.
There is something strange in this World Cup. It’s hard to describe: it’s the music that accompanies it. TV, radio, newspapers, the street. It doesn’t look like South Africa. We will see it, we will enjoy it, but we will do it like someone who is very thirsty and chokes on drinking water; like the one who feels like sneezing and suddenly can’t.
But of course we will see. Just missing! FIFA may humiliate society, but it will never be able to steal football from it. I don’t believe in revolutions, I’m afraid of blank tables and the end of history. I say this because I don’t think FIFA should be destroyed, but changed from within, from top to bottom.
And in case that happens, I write down here an ending as poetic as it is absurd. Since it is a million-dollar sport, may the new FIFA – come quickly! – one day finance the democratic resistance to the Qatari regime. The debt was acquired as soon as the World Cup contract was signed.
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