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  • Writer's pictureJose Arrieta

A death per million

Growing up the world cup was an event I looked forward. Costa Rica would rarely attend the world cup. Untill at some point CONCACAF got 1.5 extra spots and it became hard for the Ticos to miss the world cup.

From the time I was 15 onwards, Costa Rica has been loosing matches in each global competition, except one. That one hurt. It made me cry and broadly speaking, to stop watching football.

In October 2009, Costa Rica faced the US team, the leaders at that time. Costa Rica was fighting to get one of the economy tickets to South Africa. Theatch ended after more than ten minutes added time and a set of corners given to the US. One of which led to a goal, Costa Ricas hope crushed and the US team doing a tour around the stadium as Costa Ricans cried.

It was brutal. I cried. I felt awful for weeks. But it taught me an important lesson. It allowed me to realize that I do not need to care. No one I know plays football professionally. No one I know is affected by its economic influence. I am priviledge enough that I did not see football prowess as the only route for social mobility. All else been equal, football was just a distraction. So I stop caring.

Stopped caring untill this week.

As the world tunes in for the Qatar winter wwinter world cup, I cannot stop thinking of the reality that between 6.5k and 15k migrant workers died for building the world cup. They died in a rich country who chose to let them disappear into slavery by another name, Kafala.

It is true that construction workers die every day. But this is normally a mistake or a problem. When thousands die, it is unacceptable negligence. A negligence that started with some fun..

A decade ago it was funny when we saw how the cartel that runs the world cup is just a for profit firm with a "sport association" front. It became clear that if the world cup was to be held in two dictator ruled lands in a row, sportsmanship was a secondary metric. Even more when on elf the authoritarian regimes had no land where to play sports in the summer.

Life has made me less naive than to think that FIFA is anything but a marketing firm. A successful and vile one at that. But they just hold control over the Ad budget of the events they organize. That is fine.

But this week, they are using their ad expertise to make us validate a place who chose to kill over 6.5k people for hosting their games. Chose to let people die. And we are led to watch games held over the body of one in a million humans?

If so, football might be more than a cartel. The more apt analogy is a religion. In the last congregation we tuned in to the land of a dictator who invades it's neighbors and posions dissidents. This week, a land so inhumane that it's leaders see no problem in letting over ten thousand humans die.

These humans life are alms, offered to the football gods. Football enthusiasts all over the world will watch their teams loose over the remnants of death. They will rejoice in triumphs and write history that says Qatar is a good place. What other social system other than a true religion can cause this lie to take place?

As you watch and enjoy the games played on top of graves. Please remember that you can turn off the screen. Nothing will happen. The games will be played. But you can rest assured that you were not involved in normalizing atrocity.

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