Greatest Day is passed for the beautiful game

LEP Columnist Barry Freeman
LEP Columnist Barry Freeman
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Must admit, surprised to see quite so many of my fellow citizens talk blithely about the World Cup, as if it were still something civilised people could respectably concern themselves.

Don’t they remember? We found the competition drenched in blood. Died right there in front of us, along with any sense that this global mass-media roadshow now exists as a positive force in human affairs.

As something to celebrate.

Had been sickly for some while, of course. Laid low by talk of palms greased, of back-handed fair play, of overbearing, bullying tactics in the affairs of any nation lucky enough to play host.

All most unpleasant.

But nothing, literally, nothing, to being told that the lives of more than 180 workers – people, like you, with feelings, hopes, causes – had been lost on the multi-billion dollar building sites of Qatar 2022 in just two years. That was in January. Last week it emerged that actually closer to 800 (mostly migrant Indian and Nepalese) have been killed over the same period in service of spectacle.

The International Trade Union Confederation estimates that at current rates some 4,000 World Cup workers will perish on the job before a ball is kicked.

FIFA has expressed concern, urged and, most importantly, shown no sign whatsoever that this human tragedy will divert them from the chosen course. To borrow a phrase from a fellow sacred global plutocracy, the games must go on.

Must they? Of course. Too much cash already sunk in infrastructure projects worth upward of £137bn.

But this death cult goes ahead without me and anyone else not able to make excuses for human sacrifice at the altar of greater goods (said goods being wealth and power for them, and one month of vicarious thrills for you), and that’s as of now, as of Brazil 2014.

And so yes. Is surprising to see a pile of corpses so large so swiftly swept aside. Assimilated.

But no time for reflection! Here, it’s Gary Barlow, ubiquitous self-effacing face of popular patriotism, aching for a knighthood delayed only by his own infernal tax affairs, with a chorus of pop singers and veteran players, with the official England 2014 World Cup song, a cover of Take That’s Greatest Day.

“Before it all ends, before we run out of time,” goes the original lyric.

Yeah. As time ran out for the 800 sacrificed to FIFA since 2012. As it will for those yet to die.