Running the World Cup with a Hand, Burning Syria with the Other
By: Mansour Omari
Translated from Arabic by Enab Baladi
On 19 June, when Russia’s football team was playing with Egypt’s, and as the world watched the match in Russia, Putin launched a massive air campaign targeting the entire governorate of Daraa, south of Syria. The campaign was an air cover to the ground offensive by the Syrian regime and its militias. The ongoing campaign led to the killing of children and women, the displacement of about 300 thousand, searching refuge from Putin’s warplanes, on the Israeli and Jordanian borers. The Russian/Syrian bombing targeted also hospitals and shelters killing those inside, and the chased the fleeing civilians in the plains and between trees.
All this and the world did not stir a finger, but expressed silence we did not see when Putin destroyed other areas in Syria before. The despair, wonder and anger spread in Syrian social media towards this silence, should never be underestimated. They have expressed their loss of hope for the brotherhood of peoples, the principles of human rights and humanity as a whole. We do not know what the results will be, but I used to see a glimmer of hope always for them protecting them from the absolute separation from humanity, which is the work of human rights organizations that continue to document what is happening and support the Syrians as they can. Perhaps it is also time for football players and athletes to prove they are not in absolute separation from humanity.
Will history witness a team or even one player withdrawing and winning the Human Rights Cup, not a cup stained with the blood of their Syrian brothers and sisters?
Or will the nations of the world continue to race among dead bodies to a cup stained with the blood of children?
The Syrian regime began skirmishes in Daraa to test the reaction of the world, but the United States sent a message to the people of Daraa that she no longer protects them.
Russia launched several attacks. The world did nothing. It was watching the World Cup. Russia started to burn a Daraa, including several cities, towns and villages. The world did not move, and then Russia started targeting hospitals, chasing civilians in the plains and hitting shelters.
How happy and lucky Putin is with the governments of this world!
In one way or another, it is necessary to disseminate the Russian crimes pictures and news to the governments of the participating teams, their coaches, sports federations.
For example, at least the Syrians or their supporters can fill the official pages of players and teams with Russian crime pictures, videos and news in Daraa. Or use the World Cup hashtags but with videos and photos of Putin’s crimes in Syria.
FIFA is called upon to stop the tournament immediately, which may be almost impossible, because FIFA showed no proper commitment to human rights.
But countries that know exactly what sport means and its role in purging the impurities of repressive governments, raising their popularity in their countries, and among the peoples of the world, must move.
Someone might say that who withdraws from the World Cup is barred from participating in the next Cup. This time it will be an exception because the withdrawal did not fall within the framework of normal withdrawals but was a higher goal than anything else. It shares the first objective of sport, which is to support world peace and to improve human relations in order to protect human beings, at the end. In addition to the establishment of the “World Center for Sport and Human Rights” a few days ago, which aims to combat violations of rights in the world of sport, and will support the culture of human rights in the work of FIFA.
Will beIN Sports stop the World Cup coverage? And give up many millions of dollars in a historic stand with humanity and against murder?
Al-Jazeera report on Human Rights Watch and other human rights groups reports and hosts experts for discussion with almost every report, but this time Al-Jazeera completely ignored reports by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty Int., Reporters Without Borders, and others about the World Cup. Al-Jazeera’s adoption and defence of human rights and obliges it not to discriminate between rights holders and perpetrators of violations in other countries, in a world whose governments have become a major sponsor of violations and some are sometimes explicitly involved in war crimes and suppression of freedoms such as “Russia: Repression, Discrimination Ahead of World Cup”.
Al Jazeera also ignored all the calls and activities of the boycott of the World Cup for the sole reason: not to disrupt Qatari beIN Sports.
Al Jazeera, which has historically contributed to spreading awareness among Arab peoples and opened their eyes to a reality that their governments did not show, has found that the plight of the Syrians is no time to obscure the World Cup, which Human Rights Watch warned in its report: “World Cup No Time to Obscure Plight of Syrians“.
You, Syrian, who has suffered years of crimes by Assad and Putin, have the right to enjoy a match, for example, if you are a fan of this beautiful game, but be careful not to fall into the promotion of your killers. You may be able to watch the World Cup in your home, or with your friends on a link that broadcasts games without rights, but you should never participate in any promotion of Putin’s World Cup, which includes paying any money or any significant contribution to promotional work that includes certainly posting posts in “Facebook”, likes and comments. Any public participation that promotes Putin’s World Cup puts you in charge of whitening Putin’s black page and becoming a supporter of his murders.
If you are ethically or legally committed to not watching links that broadcast without rights, you can watch the games for free on many international channels broadcast. But please do not contribute to prompting your killer.