Western governments diplomatically boycotted the spotlight of the corrupt Chinese Communist Party (CCP) by refusing to send representation to Beijing’s 2022 Winter Olympics. With the dawn of Qatar’s FIFA World Cup, boycott-like behaviours boomerang as not only the West but persecuted countries themselves are standing against their twisted governments back home.
At the England-Iran football match, the Iranian team and fans stood arm in arm and remained silent during the Iranian national anthem. Their silence echoed throughout the world in remembrance of Mahsa Amini and Tehran’s brutal oppression of its own people.
In response to Qatar’s criminalisation of homosexuality, all 32 teams have been offered “No Discrimination” armbands to wear throughout the games.
Given its horrendous war against the independent state of Ukraine, Russia was left off the World Cup guest list.
These are just a few commendable acts of global solidarity in opposition to terror, bigotry, and unjust war.
Yet, where is the voice of the Free World against the World Cup’s pseudo host, the CCP?
A firm previously associated with the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, which built Xinjiang’s forced labour camps, constructed the World Cup’s Lusail Stadium. Chinese companies Wanda Group and Vivo are the two largest investors for the event. The tents and transportation services throughout the venue were produced by Chinese companies. The Stadium’s souvenir shops are filled with ‘Made in China’ products that should have stayed in China. China has spent a whopping $1.4 billion in Doha, $0.3 billion more than the United States.
The CCP’s World Cup infiltration has strengthened China and Qatar’s ties that were previously augmenting from their significant Belt and Road Initiative and Liquified Natural Gas partnerships. Unfortunately, the CCP’s acts of diplomacy including its most recent panda diplomacy with Doha is not democratic but dictatorial in nature as the CCP seeks to work with any state that will overlook the CCP’s human rights violations to ultimately retain economic benefits.
Along with the protests thus far, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and anti-CCP activists alike must not bypass the opportunity to call out the CCP in its own international arena. If the West remains silent it will only further suppress itself against the world’s most concerning regimes.
Stadium fans and Chinese, Hong Kong, and Taiwanese diasporas worldwide can unite through T-shirts, signs, and social media to challenge Qatar’s CCP-infused spirit. Perhaps after the recent accidental incident at the South Korea-Hong Kong rugby game in which “Glory to Hong Kong” was played, South Korea can intentionally play it at the start of one of its football matches.
The preservation of sports diplomacy is needed in our increasingly polarised world, but not at the expense of freedom. We must remember that a pass for Qatar is a pass for China, where over one million remain imprisoned in Xinjiang, over seven million are under the scrutiny of the CCP in Hong Kong, and Taiwan pleas to retain its freedom.
Photo credit (History of Soccer)