IT was as inevitable as Erling Haaland scoring lots of goals that there would be demands for action against the World Cup in Qatar.
Don’t say Fifa bosses didn’t ask for it, because they did.
The moment the highly questionable executive committee voted for Russia and Qatar to host the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, horrified activists began campaigns for change.
There was plenty to campaign about, too. Russian sport is riddled with drugs crime and Vladimir Putin’s policies are accelerating towards tyranny.
After questions about where exactly Qatar is, it also became clear oil money was its lifeblood and that its rulers cared as much about stadium workers’ welfare as women’s rights. So, not much at all.
No less than 650 men are believed to have died constructing stadiums.
And although worldwide protests have helped improve pay and conditions, we still have the feeling foreign brickies in the Arab state were ranked just above slaves.
With the World Cup three weeks away, it is probably too late to do much about the latest challenges — but it is surely right to air them.
Such is the anger at Putin’s war on Ukraine, that a side issue concerning Iran’s sale of bomb-charged drones to Russia has angered protesters to the point of demanding the replacement of the Islamic republic’s team with Ukraine.
For all sorts of reasons, this isn’t going to happen.
Much as many people may see it as justice, it would be an open goal to barring many countries from numerous international competitions.
The idea of a World Cup of the Innocents might be fun for those nations without fault, although my guess is such total purity does not exist anywhere or in anyone.
Iceland might edge in on the basis of lowest crime rate, although not judging by the number of wicked whodunits on TV recently.
An Iceland v Tonga final may not be a big attraction…
Sadly, Ukraine will have to concentrate on matters closer to home.
I have more sympathy with the bid to oust Iran, through the shocking treatment of protesters who refuse to accept their government’s refusal to do anything about the brutal murder, in police custody, of Mahsa Amini for taking off her hijab.
Many since — including women and children — have been killed demanding women’s rights.
Again, barring the Iran team would be widely applauded. But I am far from sure that it would further those demands.
There is a scant record of boycott success in sport.
Olympic boycotts haven’t worked and, realistically, the only one that did was against apartheid, which was started by England’s cancellation of the 1968-69 cricket Test series against South Africa.
One promise we can make is that boycott campaigns will continue to flourish.
Protesters have found it hard to impress themselves on football but I fear it won’t be too long before the green movement, for one, concentrates on the biggest sport there is.
We should be careful how we treat people who want change for the better.
Improving human rights has to be one of those.
Racism and undervaluing women are the most blatant and, I’m afraid, many politicians are slow in acting to improve these.
Football is huge across the world and has the muscle to boot their reluctance over the grandstand.