If there was a sense of destiny to the Argentina and Lionel Messi storyline, the 2022 World Cup was also a triumph for the underdog.
Numerous upsets, the early slaying of footballing giants and one team’s dizzying run to the semi-finals hinted at the fragility of the traditional footballing order.
This was, of course, an image that Qatar wanted to portray, not just in sporting terms, but also in the realm of international politics.
And with the show now over, there is a feeling in some parts of the world that the Gulf state’s hosting of a thrilling tournament represents a major shift in the global system.
‘Brotherhood, tolerance, solidarity’ – Qatar, Iran, Morocco
The state news agency QNA said: “The dream has become reality and has not been derailed from its path by the distortion campaigns and malicious allegations.” The pro-government Al-Sharq newspaper said the event had shown “fans to a new face of Arab culture”.
This was a sentiment echoed at the top. Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani tweeted: “We have kept our promise to organise an exceptional tournament from Arab lands that gave the opportunity to the world’s people to get to know the richness of our culture and the authenticity of our values.”
The sense of Arab pride was bolstered by the Morocco team’s heroics. Morocco’s state-run Al Aoula TV attributed this to a broader trend, saying the Qatar-hosted tournament “had a special flavour, seasoned with the culture of a people who did not abandon their roots, and who remained attached to their traditions, despite a thousand critics”.
It added that the tournament “will be remembered by all of the world’s peoples, and future generations will be taught how the Arabs have succeeded in astounding the world with messages of brotherhood, tolerance and solidarity”.
In Iran, the strictly conservative Tasnim news agency said: “After all the twists and turns, the 2022 Qatar World Cup ended with an Argentine victory. However, Western media criticism of the Qataris goes on.”
It also reflected on the controversy surrounding Messi being asked to wear an Arab Bisht (cloak) to receive the trophy, noting that when Pele was asked to don a sombrero after the 1970 final in Mexico it was “considered a kind of cultural coexistence”.
“How, then, can clothing Messi in a bisht convey a different message now?” it asked.
‘Geopolitical goal’ – South America
In South America, to which the trophy will be returning for the first time in 20 years, there was also reflection on how the tournament revealed the co-dependence of politics and sport.
In Mexican daily El Universal, columnist Mario Maldonado claimed the tournament had shown how unfairly the vast financial resources behind football are shared.
“It is worth stating things clearly: football is the most watched sport in the world, with a market of hundreds of millions of fans, and so is one of the most profitable businesses… why does this business distribute the greater part of its resources between a minuscule group of owners, directors, players, advertisers and owners of broadcasting rights? Could not the business of football be more democratic?” Maldonado wrote.
In Brazil’s Folha de Sao, columnist Mathias Alencastro said the tournament was “contested and controversial”, but also showed that Western countries were “increasingly incapable of shaping the opinion of the international community about a country, a regime, or a culture”.
“Despite revolting scenes such as the persecution of [LGBTQ+] rainbow flags in the stadiums, the truth is that the cup improved the profile of, and general knowledge about, the Qatari brand,” he added.
Alencastro also said that Qatar’s neighbours had benefitted from the event, noting that Saudi Arabia is reported to be preparing bids to host the World Cup and the Olympics.
Argentina’s Clarin also considered the significance of the tournament for the Gulf region, saying: “Qatar’s project of investing in football is the same as that of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, which has purchased the British club Newcastle.
“The Saudi prince wants to organise the 2030 World Cup and looks to conquer Fifa, despite his reputation.”
Colombia’s El Espectador noted that the day of the final, 18 December, was International Migrants’ Day. It quoted a UN statement saying that “migrants have shown themselves to be a source of prosperity, innovation and sustainable development for the countries of origin, transit and destination” – singling out the France team in the Qatar World Cup final as an example.
‘A powerful message’ – Africa
An opinion piece on Senegal’s Sene News website hailed the “sociability and hospitality of Qataris” and said the World Cup took place “in a warm, festival and festive atmosphere”.
“Yes, Qatar has sent a powerful message to emerging countries: a nation can keep its cultural and religious values while remaining modern,” it said.
“No state should accept the dictatorship of the powerful and see itself impose ideologies, ways of seeing, doing and being.”
The editor of Liberia’s privately owned Front Page Africa website said the World Cup demonstrated persistent inequalities among Liberian youth, after public criticism that President George Weah went to Qatar to watch his son playing for the US national team.
“But as we all cheer for Tim Weah, let us also think about how, over the years, our young people in Liberia, especially those who absolutely have no other nationality or citizenship like Tim Weah, are being persistently deprived of needed opportunities to optimise their potential,” it said.
South Africa’s Mail and Guardian online newspaper published a blog that declared Palestine the winner of the World Cup as various teams – including Morocco – regularly declared support for the occupied state, adding: “It is lovely to see especially since Fifa and Uefa are notorious for being hard-nosed when it comes to political matters. But Palestine is a human-rights matter.”
Ukraine & Russia
In Ukraine, the tournament took second place to the Russian invasion, which is now in its 10th month.
“I have felt that I do not enjoy football passions as I used to because it is a game,” MP Viktoria Siumar wrote on Facebook.
“This is the first time in my life I have not seen a single Fifa World Cup match,” former Luhansk regional governor and Georgiy Tuka posted on Facebook.
In Russia, which was banned from taking part, there was also a sense that the tournament was passing fans by. According to an opinion poll, only 9% of Russians “regularly watched” the games, and more than half said they were not following the World Cup.
‘The monopoly no longer remains’
China’s official Xinhua news agency published an article headlined “Qatar’s World Cup – Winter Fairytale” which emphasised the “rise of Asia and Africa”, focusing on the success of Morocco’s Atlas Lions who “let out a world-shaking roar, turning a new page for African soccer”.
Xinhua also spotlighted “Chinese elements” of the World Cup, citing “Qatar’s national pride”, the Lusail Stadium, Chinese referee Ma Ning who served as a fourth official in several matches, and Chinese electric buses which were “the main forces of public transportation”.
The Times of India said: “The Fifa World Cup final will be remembered for a long time, thanks to the heart-stopping thrills and the drama it offered up to the very end. Qatar can take pride at having delivered a great tournament after all the initial carping about how it won the bid.”
The Indian Express, meanwhile, saw symbolism in how Doha will once again be physically transformed in the aftermath of the tournament, with the removal of some stadiums.
“Some would be dismantled and reassembled in Africa, some would wait for their next moment of glory, when it becomes abuzz again,” it said.
“Some would be converted into offices, some would be leased to local clubs. Some would stay as emblems of the days Qatar hosted the World Cup. Perhaps more than the country, it’s the stadiums that would shed tears on the glory that has passed, of the magic that was.”
An editorial in Pakistan’s Daily Times said: “Doha has changed the entire narrative altogether, wherein the monopoly no longer remains with the liberal West. Like it or not, the Gulf countries have decided to bring their two cents to the table.”
Opinion: Why is the government spending $21-million advertising on social media such as TikTok? – The Globe and Mail
Why social media makes you feel bad
Have you ever found yourself scrolling through social media and noticed you felt a bit down? Maybe a little envious? Why aren’t you on a yacht? Running a startup? Looking amazing 24/7?
The good news is you are not alone. Although social media has some benefits, it can also make us feel a little depressed.
Why does social media make us feel bad?
As humans we inherently compare ourselves to others to determine our self-worth. Psychologists call this social comparison theory.
We primarily make two types of comparisons: upward and downward comparisons.
Upward comparisons occur when we compare ourselves to someone else (in real life or on social media) and feel they are better than us (an unfavourable comparison for us) in whatever domain we are assessing (such as status, beauty, abilities, success, and so on).
For example, comparing your day at work to your friend’s post from the ski fields (we’re looking at you Dave!) is likely to be an upward comparison. Another example is making appearance comparisons which can make you feel worse about yourself or your looks .
Although upward comparison can sometimes motivate you to do better, this depends on the change being achievable and on your esteem. Research suggests upward comparisons may be particularly damaging if you have low self-esteem.
In contrast, downward comparisons occur when we view ourselves more favourably than the other person – for example, by comparing yourself to someone less fortunate. Downward comparisons make us feel better about ourselves but are rare in social media because people don’t tend to post about the mundane realities of life.
Comparisons in social media
Social media showcases the best of people’s lives. It presents a carefully curated version of reality and presents it as fact. Sometimes, as with influencers, this is intentional but often it is unconscious bias. We are just naturally more likely to post when we are happy, on holiday or to share successes – and even then we choose the best version to share.
When we compare ourselves to what we see on social media, we typically make upward comparisons which make us feel worse. We compare ourselves on an average day to others on their best day. In fact, it’s not even their best day. It’s often a perfectly curated, photoshopped, produced, filter-applied moment. It’s not a fair comparison.
That’s not to say social media is all bad. It can help people feel supported, connected, and get information. So don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Instead, keep your social media use in check with these tips.
Concrete ways you can make yourself feel better about social media
Monitor your reactions. If social media is enjoyable, you may not need to change anything – but if it’s making you exhausted, depressed or anxious, or you are losing time to mindless scrolling, it’s time for change.
Avoid comparisons. Remind yourself that comparing your reality with a selected moment on social media is an unrealistic benchmark. This is especially the case with high-profile accounts who are paid to create perfect content.
Be selective. If you must compare, search for downward comparisons (with those who are worse off) or more equal comparisons to help you feel better. This might include unfollowing celebrities, focusing on real posts by friends, or using reality focused platforms like BeReal.
Redefine success. Influencers and celebrities make luxury seem like the norm. Most people don’t live in pristine homes and sip barista-made coffee in white sheets looking perfect. Consider what real success means to you and measure yourself against that instead.
Practise gratitude. Remind yourself of things that are great in your life, and celebrate your accomplishments (big and small!). Create a “happy me” folder of your favourite life moments, pics with friends, and great pictures of yourself, and look at this if you find yourself falling into the comparison trap.
Unplug. If needed, take a break, or cut down. Avoid mindless scrolling by moving tempting apps to the last page of your phone or use in-built focus features on your device. Alternatively, use an app to temporarily block yourself from social media.
Engage in real life. Sometimes social media makes people notice what is missing in their own lives, which can encourage growth. Get out with friends, start a new hobby, embrace life away from the screen.
Get amongst nature. Nature has health and mood benefits that combat screen time.
Be the change. Avoid only sharing the picture-perfect version of your life and share (in a safe setting) your real life. You’d be surprised how this will resonate with others. This will help you and them feel better.
Seek help. If you are feeling depressed or anxious over a period of time, get support. Talk to your friends, family or a GP about how you are feeling. Alternatively contact one of the support lines like Lifeline, Kids Helpline, or 13Yarn.
Canada adds Russian media personalities, companies in latest round of sanctions
OTTAWA — Canada has announced it is imposing a new round of sanctions on Russian media personalities and companies accused of spreading disinformation about Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly announced the latest sanctions against 38 individuals and 16 entities, saying those affected are propagating Russian President Vladimir Putin’s lies.
Among those added to Canada’s blacklist are several Russian singers, including former contestants on the popular Eurovision singing contest, as well as actors and athletes.
The list also includes one of Russia’s largest state-owned media groups, MIA Rossiya Segodnya, which owns and operates a large number of Russian-language companies.
Many of the new additions had already been sanctioned by Canada’s allies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nearly a year ago.
The new measures come amid questions about the effectiveness of Canada’s sanctions regime.
The Canadian Press reported this week that as of June 7, Canada had ordered $123 million in assets within Canada frozen, and $289 million in transactions had been blocked under sanctions prohibitions related to Russia.
But by late December, the RCMP said only $122 million in assets were listed as seized, and $292 million in transactions had been blocked despite hundreds more people associated with Russia being put on the sanctions list.
The police force did not provide an explanation for why the sums reported by financial institutions had hardly changed during that period.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2023.
The Canadian Press
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