This World Cup will be an exhausting month of whataboutery and claims of ‘hypocrisy’

Alex Scott and Gary Lineker among those accused of hypocrisy Credit: Alamy
Alex Scott and Gary Lineker among those accused of hypocrisy Credit: Alamy

It’s already clear that this World Cup will bring an exhausting month of misinformation, bad faith, false equivalence and disingenuous bullshit.

Everyone’s going to have things that grind their gears about this most grimly depressing of World Cups.

It doesn’t have to be the big ticket items; we all know about those macro problems that sit astride the tournament shitting all over it.

We’re not necessarily talking about things of that magnitude here, although in truth it is all shite from the same arse and anus.

So far the relatively minor issue – in the grand scheme of things – that’s really boiling our piss is the idea that any and all criticism of anything about this tournament amounts to hypocrisy.

At some level, absolutely every single one of these is a variation on the ‘And yet you participate in society?’ meme and all of them are designed to deflect or divert. It’s simple whataboutery.

It is itself a minor grumble but its impact is massive.

When Alex Scott so brilliantly eviscerated Gianni Infantino’s absurd claim that no, the man earning millions from running FIFA does not know what it’s like to be a migrant worker, the online right lurched into gear to point out that she was speaking to Gary Lineker and Gary Lineker also earns a great deal of money.

This is a double victory for the right, for whom Gary Lineker has long been a bogeyman figure for ‘trousering’ so much BBC cash and for also expressing some of the least challenging centrist opinions ever encountered on popular hellscape twitter dot com.

In this instance, though, its main purpose is clear: detract from and muddy Scott’s crystal-clear point with some vaguely articulated false equivalence. Doesn’t matter that Lineker has quite pointedly never made a rambling incoherent speech claiming to feel like a migrant worker on a pound an hour, or been involved in the awarding of a World Cup to Qatar and subsequent decade-long defence of said decision.

And those making these claims know that. They know it’s bollocks. But poison the well enough and you can undermine the most straightforward message. It’s the big lesson of the last decade.

Just being in Qatar covering the tournament was enough to get Lineker and co labelled hypocrites for their criticism. It is patently absurd and another false equivalence with those who have taken Qatari money to cover the tournament.

It’s just so exhausting, and it’s going to continue throughout the tournament. We now have a scenario where Harry Kane is going to be criticised for both failing to wear the OneLove armband and for taking the knee.

In a massive win for FIFA, obviously as ever the main villains, it is the players and FAs who are facing the most criticism for backing down.

There are clearly two flavours of criticism here being aimed at Kane, the other captains and their FAs. One is legit, the anger and disappointment at the failure to follow through on what was already a pretty low-key gesture. The other, louder one, is a more gleeful revelling in the idea that not just hypocrisy has been exposed but ‘woke hypocrisy’. The favourite kind of hypocrisy for the terminally online to believe themselves to have exposed.

It’s already clear that it’s going to be an exhausting month of misinformation, bad faith, false equivalence and disingenuous bullshit.

None of that is unique to this tournament, this month or this sport. And it’s not in any way the main reason this tournament is going to be so unpleasant. But it’s all wrapped up in the web of unpleasantness that surrounds this most cursed of tournaments.

It’s easy to say well, if you dislike this World Cup so much then just ignore it. But it’s not that easy, is it? If you love football it’s far easier said than done to just ignore what for all its faults remains the world’s biggest tournament.

And more than that, why should we? We only get one of these every four years, why should we let FIFA or anyone else ruin it for us?

But actively enjoying this World Cup is going to be all but impossible for reasons huge and small.

READ NOW: One Love armband surrender is seven national disgraces. FIFA must face a fight…

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