Robert Martinez gets a kicking as boycotting the World Cup debate goes on

    Roberto Martinez is the subject of nearly as much ire as Qatar as those who are boycotting the World Cup are urged to dive in.

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    The Millennials are here
    Does Rob think that millennials means “young people”? Because it doesn’t. Apparently, by definition, I’m a millennial, albeit an elder millennial.

    All I’ve known is England are shite in finals competitions, and Germany are invariably very good. The tide is turning, but some things never change. England have a good game or two, we hear the hype train comin’ (it’s rollin’ round the bend), and then they get knocked out by a “weaker” team on penalties.

    As for Germany, they need to rid themselves of all the trademarks of Joachim Löw and his style of play. It’s not working anymore. Hansi Flick was his assistant for a long time, and still uses the Löw template. They need shaking up.
    Culk the Younger (looking forward to the penalties that KO England)


    …Alas if only Rob’s email were true.

    I’m a millennial and am well into my 30s. The youngest millennial are in their mid 20s – so like me probably still have a lot of international football trauma!

    Heck, even most of Gen Z, the ones after the millennial can comfortably remember the last German WC win – they’d of been about 5-6 at the youngest, or as old as approx. 16.

    It’s the blissfully ignorant cohort after them (Gen Alpha, apparently) who I envy – they genuinely expect at least a semi-final!

    As a matter of fact, the cohort, after the cohort, after the cohort after the millennials will start being born in a couple of years…

    Not football-related at all, more a rambling note about the ravages of time…

    So I’ll get back on to football. I think the great thing about Gareth Southgate’s tenure is that we are now genuinely a footballing generation removed from all that toxicity around the national team – when Saka missed that pen, there were still sadly the usual racists but they were drowned out by a wave of support and good feeling – the thing that gives this England team an edge they’ve never had before is that they don’t look absolutely terrified of being the one scapegoated if England lose!

    As a millennial, I do love seeing Japan beat Germany mind! Justice for Frank Lampard!
    Andy (MUFC)


    Martinez is Belgium’s biggest problem
    I find it absolutely astounding that Roberto Martinez has been left in charge of Belgium for so long. A man who hasn’t been considered a competent manager since the days of Hugo Rodallega in his pomp at Wigan in 2012. In truth he was probably never a good enough coach for even the lower reaches of the Premier League. His first two managerial jobs given to him by the two clubs he had played over 100 games for in Swansea and Wigan.

    He won an FA Cup (by beating a pre Guardiola City team with an injury time winner) the same year he got Wigan relegated. He got the Everton job only because Moyes had jumped ship and Wigan had knocked them out of the FA Cup on the way to winning it. Got sacked by Everton for being a bit shit at the whole managing thing and somehow was given charge of Belgium’s golden generation. And worse again has left there to let his incompetence spread throughout the squad for 6 years, despite consistently making the team worse than the sum of its parts.

    The only people more incompetent than him in the Belgium set-up are the idiots who both appointed him and persisted with him. With a proper coach Belgium would more than likely have something to show for the last 6 years other than consistent poor displays. I know they were ranked top in fifa’s rankings for years which was absurd for a team who has never won anything or even looked close to winning anything (they are currently ranked 2nd while current World champions France are 4th) but I’d imagine that little stat kept Martinez in a job and ultimately ruined Belgium’s chances of real glory.

    I have said this before in reference to other teams and its still relevant here so I say it again, “give it to Hassenhüttl.”
    Aaron CFC Ireland (Watch them win it now to make me look the fool)


    …Interesting article from ol’ Stead man about sorry Belgium last night.

    I do however think the easiest way to explain why they were so shit is simple: Bobby brown shoes

    The so called ‘golden generation’ has been completely wasted due to the ongoing appointment of one of the worst tactical managers the premiership has ever seen.

    Martinez did well at Everton after he inherited a stubborn, Moyes style defence. A year later and Everton were heading for relegation.

    Also de Bruyne is very much a streaky player. He can hit 12 shit passes in a row, then he gets one right and everyone goes on about him being the best in the world. Complete horseshit.

    I genuinely think people’s perceived standard of football is now so low (and shaped by the media) that crap games are genuinely the norm. Stop paying through the nose for this shite, blindly following corrupt institutions and listening to the media.

    If anything, we should make our own Earth Trophy and give all proceeds to charity. What’s that? Noone makes any money? That’s right. If footballers truly had moral standards, they agree to that. Instead we revere then for squeezing as much money out of the game as they can.
    Fat Man


    A win’s a win for Belgium
    Well, that was a relief. After seeing what happened to Argentina and Germany, Belgium managed to hold on resolutely to their 1-0 lead.
    The Canadians looked strong and quick, really taking the game to the Red Devils. But the rearguard, with Dendoncker adding youth in an ancient back 3, made all the last-ditch tackles that were necessary. And Courtois was the first Belgian to save a World Cup penalty.

    At the other end, Batshuayi’s extraordinary form for the national team continued. That’s his sixth goal in his last 11 international matches. He only had two shots and rifled one into the net.

    Nonetheless, today’s iteration of Belgium remind me of how England used to be; some national treasures, familiar faces, but no control of the ball and just expecting some individual brilliance to get the win. A bit like when we expected David Beckham to win us the World Cup.

    No one here is getting carried away, but at least it’s a win and that sets up the intriguing clash with Morocco nicely.
    Paul in Brussels (Belgium are my World Cup hosts, it’s great here and beer is cheap)


    Well done Canada
    Great performance from Canada as they pulled Belgium to pieces in that first half. Absolutely fearless and exciting stuff to watch and if that pen had gone in, it’s no less than we deserved. Not sure why Davies took such a poor effort, nerves maybe but he’s a big-game player for Bayern.

    Bit of a surprise to start Hoilett, thinking that a hungry Laurin may have finished one of those first-half chances. But overall a team performance full of bravery and no little skill. Miller at the back was immense. Eustaqio grew into the game and Laryea destroyed Carrasco to the point that he was subbed at half time. If they play like this with a little more composure in front of goal Canada will get out of this group.
    Steve (ex-Flixton Red and now Jim Ratclliffe’s love-child), Sarnia, Canada


    The World Cup water is warm…come on in
    So, how’s the boycott going? Is it getting chilly up there on your pedestals?

    Round 1 of games is nearly done with another great set of games today, and it’s been fantastic!

    VAR tried to screw the pooch after 3 minutes of game 1 with a bizarre offside that the remaining 8 billion of us missed, but they seem to have calmed down a bit. The refereeing has been hit and miss with some petty fusspots causing a problem – see the prat making the Canadian player wait almost 2 minutes to take the kick whilst he got everyone’s toe behind the line – he then missed the kick. There have been some great upsets and great displays by teams from whom not much was expected – step forward Canada again. England were good (from the midfield forward), some early favourites have emerged and the footy has been on the whole, very entertaining.

    The commentary has been as expected. Clive Tyldesley has been Clive Tyldesley whilst Ally McCoist has been brilliant and should be at EVERY SINGLE MATCH. Even the BBC team is a bit like my po-faced aunt at one of our sex parties – she disapproves and thinks the whole thing is disgusting, but can’t help enjoying herself.

    Hey, the world is a shitty place full of shitty people doing shitty things. You only have to think of a certain Russian c*&t to see what a shitshow this place is, but you can either sit in the dark watching Antiques Roadshow whilst tutting to yourself and clutching your pearls, or do like my po-faced aunt and put down your knitting, put on your gimp suit, and get involved. It’s great!!!!!!!!!
    Bladey Mick (Auntie, put that down, you don’t know where it’s been)


    …Thank god/allah/Buddha etc that all of these virtuous boycotters are writing into F365 to let us know how virtuous they are.

    I was losing sleep wondering who wasn’t watching the football. If they hadn’t have told us who knows what would have happened.

    Imagine being that up your own arse that you have to write to a website to tell them how good you are, and then doubling down on that by letting the rest of the readers know that you won’t judge them for watching it.

    I bet they like the smell of their own farts too.
    Weldoninhio, Dublin


    Loving the Qatar World Cup
    I am one of the fan enjoying seeing the World Cup for the first time in the Arab world (yes, Arab World ).

    I can not tell you how amazing is to see how Qatar excellent planning and achievements have been made, its beyond imagination.

    Enjoy the world cup! my friend.
    F.Shuhaibi, Oman


    On the nuances of the Qatar World Cup
    While I applaud journalistic courage and persistence in raising issues like migrant worker conditions and LGTQ+ rights in Qatar – and these questions have to be asked, I am quite uncomfortable with the narrative in many places, that Qatar being a non-footballing super-power is unsuited to host the World Cup. This is never directly said, but is a common thread running in a lot of publications.

    Who is really suited to host a large footballing event? Questions were raised about the expenditure to build stadiums for Rio 2014 – in Brazil for god’s sake. The Euros final at Wembley and Champions League finals at Paris were both highly problematic and mismanaged. Can we argue that Qatar is unable to handle crowds or produce an atmosphere? After the Saudi Arabia, Japan and Tunisia games, I think not (and I hope I don’t have to regret these words later).

    And LGBTQ rights? Well where was the most recent shooting in an LGBTQ+ nightclub, clearly community motivated? Not in Asia.

    Referring to this Mailbox, I would love to ask Lee what he thinks about Britain’s colonial past and the events at Wembley and the Champions League finals. A wonderful counterpoint to all the thinly veiled racism was Mike’s (LFC supporter, of course he’s awesome) balanced and nuanced point of view.

    Football’s resistance to change and Eurocentric worldview is really something – Europa League finals in Baku, lunch time kickoffs, goalkeepers in long sleeves, Jesse Marsch saying American things – so many things are constantly moaned about. Sometimes I’m glad I don’t come from a traditional footballing powerhouse (India) so I can just enjoy the game for what it is.

    Sorry for the rant, but get off your high horses guys.
    Divya (LFC supporter from India, living in Hong Kong)


    …I’ve seen quite a few emails saying (or heavily implying) that it’s hypocritical to enjoy the Saudi Arabia win over Argentina because they have an as bad human rights and anti-lgbt stance as Qatar.

    But can people really not see the difference? It’s not the footballers or the football teams themselves that people abhor (and rightly abhor), it’s the regimes that control those countries. Saudi Arabia beating Argentina is purely a result of the footballers on the pitch, Qatar hosting the World Cup, treating people terribly etc is a failing of the Qatari state along with FIFA.

    The football itself is different to the state and their actions.
    Calum, MUFC (If Qatar had beaten Argentina you’d better believe there’d have been a similar reaction), Wokingham


    …I’d decided not to contribute any more to the debate about Qatar, as it could run endlessly. However, the email from Graham Simons prompted me to join in with a final thought. Not because I disagree with him. I actually think a World Cup spread amongst India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the rest of the sub continent could be great. But here are some headlines from Amnesty International:

    The authorities used repressive laws to silence critics by curbing freedom of expression both offline and online. Human rights defenders, including activists, journalists, students, lawyers and actors, continued to face intimidation and harassment.

    A series of highly publicized cases highlighted the ongoing problem of violence against women. Thousands were left homeless in the city of Karachi after houses in the Gujjar Nala neighbourhood were razed by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation. The state offered no resettlement plan nor compensation, and media reports estimated that the forced evictions put 21,000 children out of school.

    Freedom of expression continued to be heavily curtailed by draconian laws. The authorities carried out serious human rights violations including enforced disappearances, unlawful detention, torture and extrajudicial executions

    These are snippets. Read the the full reports if you want. I was struggling to put my finger on why I’ve been uncomfortable with the tone of the conversation regarding Qatar. Now I’ve worked it out. It’s not that Qatar shouldn’t be criticised. It should. It’s that its being portrayed as some singular outlier. A pit of evil amongst the sanctity of the rest of the World. At the exact same time as people are criticising the World Cup, England’s cricket team are preparing to tour Pakistan. The press coverage has been about how great it is to see cricket back in Pakistan. I’ve not seen one article saying that England should boycott because of Pakistan’s humans rights record. Or because it’s illegal to be gay.

    Anyway, that’s the end of my contribution to the debate (you’ll probably be glad to hear). Emails about football from now on…
    Mike, LFC, London


    Defending Sri Lanka and Olivier Giroud (obviously)
    Firstly I want to make a quick defence of Sri Lanka as mentioned in Mike, LFC last email.

    While perhaps ‘technically’ there may be some outdated law re: homosexuality being ‘illegal’ it is 100% NOT enforced or even considered. Sri Lanka has gone through enough in the last 3 years and the country desperately needs to get its tourism industry running – So the last thing we need is to be painted as an anti-LGBTQ location as well. So please don’t make this another deterrent. You are free to holiday and be as openly gay as you like. In fact it is common knowledge that even the current President bats for the other team.

    Second – Olivier Giroud is THE most underrated striker in world football. If he had a yard more of pace he would be in the elite category. I would love to have him back at Arsenal – as the plan B option, Imagine him with Saka, Martinelli, Odegaard, Xhaka, Jesus around him. The guy plays for the team. I’m sure personally he would have loved to score in the last WC but he was integral to France winning and that’s what matters most. In the same vein, ideally I would love Jesus to score 20 goals in a season, but if he scores 10, assists 10, and manages to walk Arsenal into the Top 4 and maybe a cup trophy – Pundits may declare that a poor season but NOONE at Arsenal will. Couldn’t care less if Jesus scored no more goals if his contribution enables Arsenal push City close (Top 4 and above Spurs is still the target).

    Third – Will there be questions asked about USA’s suitability to host a WC on grounds of basic fan safety? One wrong fan altercation and someone can pull out an automatic weapon from his truck.

    I recall how much flak Brazil got re: fan safety in 2014 – People dying at Schools, Churches, Theatres, Supermarkets, Nightclubs (an LGBTQ one at that!). I’m not saying they shouldn’t host it, but why isn’t there similar discussion re: their gun laws that are completely at odds with the rest of the world (developed and developing)?
    Hats (3 Paragraph rule)


    Not watching the World Cup
    Like Jeremy Aves, I’m not watching the World Cup either, and for similar reasons. Fundamentally, I don’t think I’m good enough at compartmentalisation to be able to enjoy it, knowing what I know about the circumstances in which the stadiums were built, or how women, LGBTQ people or non-citizens are treated in the country. If other people can, fine. If people sincerely think that the coverage of the WC will lead to positive change in Qatar and other repressive regimes, then also fine, I suppose.

    I have a 9yo and a 6yo who are watching it and I don’t feel I can dictate to them that they can’t watch a World Cup just because of my sensibilities, and it’s been an opportunity for us to talk about things like human rights and sportswashing, so that’s something. And I overheard my youngest trying to explain to my wife who someone called “Thogden” was, and I’m relieved that that’s not a conversation I have to have.

    Ah well. I’ll go and shout at the clouds.
    Dara O’Reilly, London


    …Mark MCFC has asked the question of how boycotting the World Cup contributes to the debate on LGBTQ+ issues. For an individual such as myself it’s not going to and nor is it intended to. There are far more people/organisations with an actual platform who are doing that, to varying degrees of application and success. Or not (Neville/Beckham hang your heads).

    For me, the boycott is simply borne of distaste for a number of reasons. I don’t feel comfortable watching the world’s showcase football tournament awarded corruptly (is it something like 16 of the 18 people who voted for Qatar up on bribery charges?) to a tiny nation with no love for the sport purely so that the despotic rulers can bask in some regional dick measuring bragging rights. The criminalising of citizens in the host nation for loving the wrong person.

    The oppression of journalists and citizens for speaking out against the rulers. The appalling treatment of the migrant workers and subsequent cover ups of mistreatment and death. The absurd amount of money spent on it (something like 20 times the amount spent on previous tournaments). Ultimately my boycott is futile as a gesture that will cause meaningful impact, although if enough people worldwide have declined to tune in it may send a message to FIFA and their sponsors for future occurrences (some hope!). I’m just not comfortable watching in these circumstances.

    I’ve no judgement for anyone who is watching it. The World Cup is an infrequent event and it’s not the fans’ fault the tournament was awarded there, nor is it the players’ fault. I get that. Like mailbox legend Jeremy Aves though, I do find some distaste in the whataboutery we’ve seen coming to the fore but that’s an unfortunate by-product of modern discourse.

    As to how I’m boycotting, it’s simple. I’m not watching or listening to any matches, highlights or anything similar, nor reading match reports. Yeah I might glean bits and pieces from unavoidable headlines on websites and skimming through the mailbox but that’s as far as it goes.
    James Outram, Wirral


    …I don’t want to add an opinion to the seemingly endless arguments about whether or not we should all be boycotting the World Cup, there’s certainly been enough of that in the mailbox over the last few weeks.

    I do have some advice though. If you have a partner or significant other who isn’t interested in football and you are boycotting, don’t tell them. I’ve agreed to a trip to Ikea tomorrow evening while the England game is on and, quite frankly, I’m being treated like a king…
    Bill Handley, Gloucester


    When the Mailbox was fun
    Yes Dave LFC, I too remember the fun days of the mailbox with increasingly rose tinted specs.

    As we’re now in a World Cup, I’ll nominate “Fat Ron Devours Poor Japan” as my favourite WC tagline from 2006 when O Fenomino ran riot.
    Aussie Red


    Sales are down to UK economic crisis
    It’s speculative but I completely disagree with Tunji, Lagos’ suggestion that FSG and the Glazers are now open to selling Liverpool and ManUtd due to the European Super League failing. The ESL failed 18 months ago and both ownership groups denied planning to sell their respective clubs in the meantime.

    If you consider the specific timing of this decision taking place in October/November 2022, rather than sometime soon after April 2021, I think it is far more likely that these owners becoming open to selling their respective clubs has to do with UK economic crisis which unfolded over the last few months, leading to a situation where (1) UK assets are very appealingly priced for foreign investors + (2) it is the perfect time for foreign investors who currently hold UK assets to cash out.

    As a Liverpool fan, I’d rather both ownership groups remained in place, but it’s been a nice run while it lasted…
    Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland


    It has to get better for Man Utd
    I’ve heard one or two people, some even United fans, saying “perhaps the better the devil you know…” when it comes to the Glazers selling. To that, there is one simple reply;

    “Name a Premier League club, not called Everton, that has been more badly mismanaged in the last decade?’

    Sure, it’ll probably be more US venture capitalists, but most US venture capitalists are better than these utter, utter c***s.
    Lewis, Busby Way

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