Qatar mood-enhancers and getting used to change: can you taste the joy? | Football


We’re old enough to remember when Marathon became Snickers in the UK. It was 1990 and everyone kicked off about it. The change would have happened earlier but apparently company suits feared Snickers sounded too much like knickers so repressed Brits would be too flushed in the cheeks to buy it. Anyway, the thing that really bothered the corner shop-bothering folk was whether nougat, peanuts, chocolate and caramel could still taste the same with a different name. BA Baracus seemed to think so. You see, Mars could afford to hire Mr T to give their product the big sell by getting him to reassure worried consumers by the medium of pointing and shouting loudly at them that they’re fools if they didn’t like it. At Fiv … sorry, Football Daily Towers, we’ve got, erm, let’s see, um … “Hello? Hello? Uncle? Granny? Anybody?!” Is it cold in here?

Anyway, we can tell you where it isn’t cold. Doha. It’s 32C and sizzling as teams and journalists descend on the desert in mid-November for this completely normal and in-no-way egregious Human Rights World Cup. England were greeted at their team hotel by a crowd of enthusiastic expat Indians singing “Three Lions”. There were accusations that they weren’t proper England fans – presumably because not one of them had a lit flare stuck up their backside or was ostentatiously hoovering up marching powder off the back of their hand while stood on a phone box. But with searingly witty new ditties such as “Pickford is our super keeper” being belted out, perhaps these newly-discovered supporters should be embraced.

The Qatar [HR] World Cup Supreme Committee denied they were “fake” fans. “We thoroughly reject these assertions, which are both disappointing and unsurprising,” blathered a statement. Much like Snickers over three decades ago, this tournament is hard to get our simple head around. Who knows what’s legit any more? We already know, there really are “paid” England fans in Doha. How’s your bank balance, David? And, of course, the 40 supporters being given free flights and a £60-a-day spend to “stand up, sing the song/chant, wave your flags” and play the Great Escape on a trumpet repeatedly for the cause which, let’s be clear, is to polish the Gulf nation state’s image.

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Qatar: beyond the football


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One thing we can say for certain is that getting stuck into a mood-enhancer will be a costly and perhaps soul-crushing business. It will cost £12 for just less than a pint of Budweiser. Budweiser, for heaven’s sake! Can you taste the joy? Well, you might if you can find the right place and time to buy it. The owner of the “King of Beers” grovelled that it was trying to deliver “the best possible consumer experience under the new circumstances” after being told to move its stalls to less visible spots outside stadiums by the Supreme Committee, which confirmed there will be specific “pouring times” and a limit of four units per person. So good luck getting a hangover, then. Mind you, with reports of journalists being harassed on the streets already, and campaigners saying that gay Qataris are being physically abused then recruited as agents to track down other LGBTQ+ citizens, it is most likely that the game itself is the one left with the shakes when this dystopian chapter in football’s history ends.


“Why are we so competitive? Because they teach us to be. Because pitches exist, everywhere. In every neighbourhood, every place, however deprived. Wherever there’s space to kick a ball, there’s a game. That competitiveness demanded as a professional is already there: you’ve been doing it all your life, every day, in the rain, any surface, playing barefoot, breaking a toe, wrapping it up and carrying on. I always say that in football it’s not the same to play as to compete” – Edinson Cavani’s chat with Sid Lowe is well worth your time, on getting joy from nature, wanting to be a vet and why Uruguay succeed.

Edinson Cavani in all his glory.
Edinson Cavani in all his glory. Photograph: Agencia Gamba/Getty Images

“My congratulations to the marketing department on the rebranding of The Fiver to Football Daily. A change from a name suggesting something of universal value to one signalling a dreary, repetitive, never-ending stream of content. At least somebody working there knows what they’re doing” – Mathias Stigsgaard.

“Football Daily? Weird Uncle Football Daily doesn’t really have the same ring, does it? Is this going to be like when St James’ Park was rebranded as the Sports Direct Soccerdome and everyone just ignored it and carried on as before?” – Dom Ward.

“Surely Football Daily is the very opposite of STOP FOOTBALL?” – David Maddock.

“Having followed David Squires’s series in the run-up to HRWC, I must admit I went from tsk, tsking over the plight of the workers to at least wondering if I should even watch the spectacle. But being a weak and spineless sort, I knew I’d eventually relent … it’s the (HR) World Cup after all. But after his final part yesterday, I now know I am done with it. So thank you to Squires, for helping me grow a spine. RIP Rupchandra Rumba and all the rest of your departed colleagues” – Mike Fichtner.

“As a consultant in orthopaedic and trauma surgery, I can reassure Adam Forde (yesterday’s letters) that I am well versed in the myriad ways in which a bone can twang, pop, snap, crack and doink. Or maybe that’s now two reputations in tatters?” – Dan Westacott.

Send your letters to And you can always tweet Football Daily via @guardian_sport. Today’s winners of our letter o’ the day is … Mathias Stigsgaard, who wins a copy of World Cup Nuggets by Richard Foster.

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