November 26, 2022

Football - Cheering for Wales... or maybe not.

It's a very exciting time in Wales, with the Wales Football Team competing in the world cup for the first time in 64 years.  When I moved here 13 years ago Wales was a rugby nation.. the six nations was the sport we all followed. Heartbreak and triumph rested on the future of a grand slam, or a grand defeat.
Now, apparently, Wales is a footballing nation.  Wales has gone to Qatar to represent Wales, and to spread ideologies of tolerance and acceptance.

There might be a hiccup there, as Qatari officials threatened to break a Dutch camerapersons gear on because they weren't filming in the right place.

Or when Wales said they would play with armbands in support of LGBT, but then Qatar and FIFA said no, armbands aren't allowed, and although the rights of LGBT are important they are apparently not as important as getting the uniform standards correct. 

Or when the amazing Laura McAllister was told to remove her rainbow bucket hat because although Qatar is welcoming of all - Laura is gay and allowed to be there - she's just not allowed to support being gay.

I feel even more conflicted at the current adoration of Welsh Football as it's where I worked for a weird, amazing, and interesting two years of my life.  The team I worked with (not the men's team) were incredible - respectful and inspiring. 

I was aware of the men's team, and the people who worked for/with them.  While some were great people, some were not always kind, or respectful.  There were people and politics at play that would not pass for acceptable now. Things that that should not have passed for acceptable then.

When I worked in football I didn't see the #MeToo movement coming.  In my recollection, the women in the support staff, like all women, knew that being kind to people in positions of authority was beneficial to ones career.  Things that I was aware of then, things that were normal at the time, make me retrospectively uncomfortable now.   

The #MeToo movement was more than women telling men what they experience.  Men were surprised and blindsided - and they shouldn't have been.  To me, the #MeToo movement was also the moment that women told other women this is what WE experience. Every person - younger me included - who watched inequalities at play and said nothing was slightly complicit.  Clearly not as complicit as the men who were in power, and certainly not as much as the predators... but I feel a tiny piece of responsibility(??) stays with the observers.*

At the time I didn't think what I was witnessing was wrong.  I didn't realize there were other ways to be.  

Wales isn't unique, and it certainly isn't the worst.  Football isn't either.  But the when Qatar gloss over their human rights issues to host the world up, I am very aware that we are glossing over issues with our footballing structure as well.  While we can support our country with bucket hats and banners, our country can also use a moment of reflection on it's own inequalities at play.

*I thought this was explored really well in The Morning Show

1 comment:

  1. Interesting right, how some countries want to participate on the World Stage but not adhere to some globally excepted rules. It was all very strange to watch and I realize there are a lot of pulling factors at play (e.g. why the teams that were going to wear the rainbow colored armbands, ended up not doing that). But yeah, in all areas of life, a little self-reflection surely doesn't hurt.