James O'Brien defends the England team's 'powerful gestures' against Qatar's 'rancid regime'

21 November 2022, 11:49

James delves into the importance of discussing the Qatar World Cup and Qatar’s ‘rancid regime’.

By Hannah Holland

James drew attention to the catch-22 of making a political gesture as he brands FIFA the 'most ridiculous institution on the planet'.

James O'Brien began by highlighting the significance of the Qatar World Cup, acknowledging that it is “good news” for those disinterested in sports since there is “so much politics attached to this years event”.

“I can’t really think of anything that doesn’t have politics running through it like Blackpool through a stick of rock”, he added.

“Everything is politics. Politics is everything.”

James then discussed the “powerful gesture” of the England football team announcing they will be taking the knee before their opening World Cup game on Monday, whilst accepting that some may find the gesture “meaningless” for “not really addressing any issues directly”.

James then addressed the catch-22 of political gestures saying: “What’s wrong with raising consciousness and raising awareness - well you must do more.”

READ MORE: England captain Harry Kane won't wear 'OneLove' armband in World Cup after FA back down over booking threat

READ MORE: World Cup 2022: Morgan Freeman kicks off ceremony in Qatar ahead of opening match against Ecuador

On Sunday, comedian Joe Lycett shredded £10,000 to protest against David Beckham’s role in the World Cup, a move which invited immense criticism from those who said Lycett should have given the money to a food bank.

James defended the stunt, saying it drew “enormous amounts of attention to the fact that one of the richest sports people in the history of the United Kingdom has taken £10 million from a rancid regime.”

After the England team initially declared they would be wearing ‘OneLove’ armbands in response to Qatar’s discriminative LGBTQ laws, FIFA have threatened that captains could face an instant yellow card.

James highlighted the paradoxical predicament: “If you’ve got any principles you should wear the armband and take the punishment”.

However, he added that some might say: “What’s the point of being in the World Cup if you’re not there to try your very very best to win it - if you want to make a political gesture, don’t go at all."

“Do you see what I mean?” James asked listeners.

“With the possible exception of the British Conservative party, FIFA has got to be the most ridiculous institution on the planet, hasn’t it?”

He continued: “You can never please all of the people all of the time.

“So if you do something that one person considers to be beautiful and powerful, like for example, taking the knee before a game of football to protest against the institutional racism in society at large and sport in particular, then someone else will boo it because whether they realise it or not, they’re racist and they think it’s awful.”

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