x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Western whiners in full cry over Fifa

Ever since those World Cup envelopes opened in Zurich on December 2, any ear setting out to hear world-class whining could get a rare sating.

Brazil fans enjoy the party vibe as they get ready for a friendly with England in Doha.
Brazil fans enjoy the party vibe as they get ready for a friendly with England in Doha.

What a banner December this has been for connoisseurs of the Whiny West, for people who relish collecting stories of Whiny West whining.

Ever since those World Cup envelopes opened in Zurich on December 2, any ear setting out to hear world-class whining could get a rare sating.

The whining in England over the 2018 World Cup going to Russia has been loud and voluminous and excellently farcical.

The whining in the United States over the 2022 World Cup going to Qatar has been muffled - the public still does not care all that much about football - but has checked in with some characteristic, nationalistic myopia.

Now, those of us who choose to roam the Earth long have known of the Whiny West in the form of tourists who whine because a certain destination did not sufficiently resemble home, which always has left a shouting, underlying question:

Why travel?

In this vein, the historically new capacity of tourists to write those little travel reviews on websites has been a profound blessing, for it provides some of the best reading going for avid Whiny West spectators.

In my all-time favourite sampling of whining from the Whiny West, an American tourist reviewed a hotel that sits high on a bluff upon the Greek island of Mykonos.

No doubt aware of the outdoor dining area and the hot morning coffee and the merry rabbits skipping in the yard and the sweeping view to the Aegean Sea so jaw-dropping that you could think yourself departed from regular old Earth, the reviewer moaned still.

The hotel, agreeably priced and unsurprisingly threadbare, offered - oh, get this - only one kind of cereal on the breakfast buffet.

Let us pause for a moment of awe at that sentiment in that setting, while mulling the mystery of why Canadians have not annexed the whininess of the Whiny West, thus do not deserve a lumping-in here. And add that while French tourists might well be whiny abroad, most of us cannot understand them, diminishing the brunt.

With Russia 2018, the pinnacle might be the implied idea that because you get to have breakfast with a thoroughly delightful prince you ought to vote a certain way.

In addition to being high-school absurd, this overlooks the existence of that very real brigade of Harry-over-William enthusiasts, many of whom occupy our families and friend groups.

Further mirth comes with the post-decision outrage over the notion that Fifa might come with some sort of baggage suggestion some sort of evidence of some sort of corruption. Who knew?

And with Qatar 2022, the mild whining has featured typical snobbery, including proud ignorance of Qatar's whereabouts from we Americans whose culture often doubles as an echo chamber of self-congratulation. This alone could make a rational person hop in the streets of Doha.

Yet the height of the whining would have to be this enduring question about alcohol, and whether the planet can continue rotating on its axis if fans will be unable to consume it as they would in Europe or the Americas.

Surely there are valid concerns about Qatar 2022. Surely, as noted by the ever-astute Grahame L Jones inthe Los Angeles Times, it is dubious that after the bids and the decision, now we yammer about a World Cup in January.

Surely, this good concept of moving some matches around the Gulf region should have come up more prominently during the bid process.

Surely, the valid concerns do not include alcohol. Here is a humble suggestion from a non-teetotaler who grew up in a culture that values alcohol: Would it kill you or maim your innards to take a month off? Four measly weeks? Jeez.

In fact, view it as an adventure, an experiment.

See it as a chance to acquaint with a different culture and to get a feeling for its precepts, then go back home to your accustomed life. Broaden thyself.

The football itself might even look as new. I know an accountant in London who underwent a thoughtful experiment once.

For one night, he eschewed his usual pre-match pub, and as he watched the match he had the sense that to him, given his background, the match did not look right.

A bunch of us listeners guffawed at that, but does that mean there cannot be one World Cup that does not look "right" in somebody's sense? Is that really such an effective argument as the world rushes to frontier after so many years of (clearly) entitled Western hegemony?

Is that a reason to go have some big conniption when set against the positive forces of using the renowned bridge of sport to reach new regions?

If so, how whiny.

cculpepper@thenational.ae