THE letter from Owen Kelly on Saturday (Sport is not ‘apolitical’ when countries such as Qatar are hosting it) got me in reasoning mood.

Like Owen, I am much in favour of player demos highlighting human rights issues in World Cup Qatar, but I feel such concerns should be aired comprehensively or less selectively beyond Qatar, and have sincere sympathy with Fifa’s calling on competing nations “to not allow football to be dragged into ideological or political battles.”

Football is the opiate of the masses, and once we’ve sucked on that magic pipe, and sit comatose, mesmerised by boots on leather, we won’t give a fart about human rights or even the impending extinction of homo sapiens.

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Fifa isn’t qualified or authorised to identify and adjudicate on breaches of human rights, still less to weigh the severity of specific lapses, one against the other. It has to remain detached – though preferably without coming down too hard on individual or team demos.

Human rights? A few years past, a trio of rich states attacked little Libya (with which they were not at war) by land, air and sea, firing off more than 100 cruise missiles on the first day of the conflict. It was over in a few days. The gutter press was predictably ecstatic, but “barbaric” was the word our late ally Colonel Muammar Gaddafi used to describe the assault. The targets were reportedly military, but this was Libya’s military, and soldiers are human with rights.

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No-one has ever called for the USA, France and the UK to be banned from World Cups or Olympics. Is it then more reprehensible to impose draconian laws on your own people, denying their basic rights, than it is to bombard the people of a foreign state with hundreds of cruise missiles?

Kevin McKenna came in there reminding me of his recent piece eloquently pointing out the debasement of the traditional memorial poppy into its current role as a common badge of peacemakers, warmongers and fascists.

Let’s hope the worthy on-pitch protests don’t ultimately get hijacked in the same way. Truth is the first casualty of war – and hypocrisy is its ever ready and more enduring replacement.

John Melrose

HYPOCRISY and corruption are never far away when a Tory Prime Minister stands up to speak with apparent moral authority. At the G20 summit at Bali, PM Sunak told Russia to get out of Ukraine and apparently glared at Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, as he spoke.

Unfortunately, Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, has a £490 million stake in the company Infosys, which is still operating in Russia and has links with a major Russian bank. This was eight months after the company said it would “urgently” shut its offices after the invasion of Ukraine. So much for the moral higher ground.

Oh well, the World Cup is on its way in Qatar. There should be no hypocrisy or corruption on show there!

Gordon Ferrie

IT is 1939, and my mother is talking about things I don’t really understand, like food shortages, ration cards, and other things that seem to worry her and in turn scare me and the rest of us (sisters and brother) a wee bit!

It is now 82 years later and my wife has just wakened me from a short nap in my chair, and fully awake I say to myself “thank heavens, back to reality.”


James Ahern
East Kilbride