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Peter Moore on Club World Cup and Qatar Concerns

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Liverpool’s CEO shared his excitement over the club’s involvement in the competition as well as broached topics regarding concerns swirling around the host country.

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Liverpool FC v Norwich City - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Liverpool FC are in the midst of a very big week with a date with Manchester City in the Premier League on the weekend and, immediately, a chance to host Genk in the Champions League tomorrow.

If things go right, Liverpool could be, by this time next week, owners of a less stress-inducing run of CL group matches with their participation looking more likely and, perhaps more importantly, owners of a nine point cushion at the top with only one more match between them and their closest rivals left to influence the title race.

In short, for their two biggest competitions, a pair of wins mean Liverpool would very much be the dictators of their own fortune.

A little bit further along the schedule, though, is the Festive Fixture crunch. And, this year, it’s gotten a little bit more crunchy with Liverpool still alive in the Carabao Cup and their involvement as the representatives of Europe in FIFA’s Club World Cup. Both the next round of the Carabao Cup and a match in the Club World Cup are slated to take place the week of December 16th.

To that end, Jurgen Klopp has spoken rather adamantly about hoping that the FA would find a solution to the congestion. While we wait for that to come, though, Liverpool CEO Peter Moore sat down with the official site to speak a bit about the club’s involvement in the Club World Cup. And the fact that it’s being held in Qatar.

The interview is brief and can be viewed in full here, but of particular interest is his response to questions regarding concerns about the host country. Namely, that Qatar holds that homosexuality is illegal, punishable with jail time, and that the preparation leading up to the nation hosting the 2022 World Cup has included human rights abuses including the use of what amounts to slave labor.

Moore stressed that LFC have met with a host of groups including members of the human rights advocacy community, trade unions, and NGOs. He also stressed that he received assurance that any travelling LGTBQ fans would be afforded a safe space while in Qatar supporting the club.

However, Moore did stop short when asked about the club’s role in potentially bringing change to the region.

“I think that’s important and I understand why the question [on clubs being an agent of change] is being asked. But I think it’s important that we have the humility as a football club that we are a football club first, second, and last. We are not a political organization. And it’s neither our place nor our ambition to go from country to country, forcing our values, our beliefs, on others.”

It’s an understandable take. It’s a reasonable take. Perhaps, if you squint at it just right and read between the lines a little, there’s a hint of a progressive take in there somewhere.

It is, however, that you have to read so far between the lines to maybe spot it is a bit of a let down for those of us who hoped that this club - a club that understands issues of justice so vitally and intimately - would be able to recognize how, especially in a case such as this, sports and politics are inextricably linked. Sports can be beautiful, but sport can also be used as a means to obfuscate this sins, ongoing and historical, of a country. Like holding an Olympics in a fascist country.

Qatar is hoping in the same way that 2018 World Cup hosts Russia, for example, hoped that hosting the Final would serve to bolster its image. Sports as a means of throwing a veil over the ills that a government body is involved in - even as it engages in more and continuing deplorable behavior in its efforts to rehabilitate its public image, with a trail of migrant labor deaths and uncompensated families. The sport, here, no matter what Liverpool do or don’t say, is already a means to a political end.

Liverpool could, then, send a message and help to draw a line in the sand, as it were, in terms of the real life concerns of marginalized groups in Qatar. They could go and still do that; they could go and at least make any concerns about Qatar clear and loud. It appears, instead, that Liverpool are prepared to make the trip and to justify doing so as an example of soft, retail politics, where they will say nothing controversial in order to avoid being political and in doing so allow themselves to be used for Qatar’s political purposes.

Which is the biggest disappointment about the whole thing. Because we know that tact - if it is a strategy - is unlikely to bring about the type of change people on the fringes of society in Qatar so desperately need.