Just a Dream
As we approach the end of 2022, I’ve asked a few people whose words and wisdom I deeply respect to share what’s been on their minds. Here is the author Sean Wilsey with some thoughts about this year’s World Cup and how it might set an example for authoritarians everywhere.
Here comes the sadness that always follows a World Cup. Nothing more to say about the too-punitive nature of penalties or referees’ right to red card a team’s players and its coaching staff. But then (for me) the goal of watching the Cup wasn’t the hope of seeing any particular team victorious. What was at stake was never a pure gold statue or the crowning moment for the world’s current #1 celebrity, who, according to Adidas AG, sold out his #10 jersey not just planet-wide, but into the future, with everything in the production pipeline claimed — a run on merch unlike any in the history of sales.
This month a repressive, or at least, by our standards, extremely touchy regime decided to host the planet’s most raucous party. And it was good.
What I loved about this World Cup was the opportunity to spend a month throwing out my reflexive beliefs. We’ve all thought about infection over the last few years. Freedom and infection. The word in Italian for a soccer fan is un tifoso, an infected person. Qatar 2022 was the beginning of a different infection. One that offered the possibility of seeing everything in a changed light.
Watching Fox Sports and reading the New York Times I was repeatedly reminded of a general inability by the commentariat to so much as pronounce the host nation’s name. In the latter a long article, complete with online links to various helpful linguists, failed to offer the serviceable suggestion that it be pronounced as you’d toss off the word “guitar” — “g-tar.” Nor could anyone approximate its land area: Connecticut, off by 1,075 square miles, being the go-to comp, in a rare agreement between Times and Fox. The New Yorker made a Messi-like dodge by saying it’s “smaller than Connecticut.” Yeah, like, a lot smaller! Like the way Australia is smaller than The United States. And (Fox aside) this attitude was coupled with the unrelenting cutting and…