By the time you’re reading this, the world, literally, will be immersed in the first World Cup game of a nearly one-month long series of competitions to determine the best soccer team of 2022. Thirty-two countries are represented in a tournament contested with eight round-robin groups followed by a knockout round for 16 teams.
This morning’s match has Ecuador playing Qatar, the “impossibly wealthy” Persian Gulf peninsula that, until 1971 when gas was discovered under the sand, was a last bastion of poverty among the Arab states. Today, the tiny state is one of the wealthiest nations in the world.
FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) is the governing body of international soccer and is one of the most corrupt organizations known to mankind, barely keeping up to that found in the Trump Administration.
Qatar, which does not have a strong tradition of futbol, wanted to host the World Cup for one obvious reason: money. Despite the country’s wealth, there can never be enough.
Qatar lobbied hard to win the competition. Although the Cup is usually held in summer, Qatar features 100-degree daytime temperatures during that season. No problem. To show its commitment, the tiny country built an outdoor, air-conditioned stadium, more than besting the five-acre tract Liberace kept cool at this Palm Springs estate.
Although impressed, FIFA decided, in its awarding the games to the state, to move the game dates to late fall.
But summertime heat notwithstanding, there were other concerns with awarding the Cup to Qatar. It needed to build seven stadiums and refurbish another. It also needed an entire network of roads and rails to transport fans between the arenas and dozens upon dozens of hotels to house them.
The promise of a $220 billion nation-building project impressed FIFA. So did the under-the-table transfer of unknown millions of dollars to its directors and executives. FIFA leadership has been suspected of corruption, bribery, and vote-rigging related to the election of FIFA president Sepp Blatter. These allegations led to the indictments of nine high-ranking FIFA officials and five corporate executives by the U.S. Department of Justice on charges including racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering.
What was still missing, of course, was that pesky notion that Qatar had no soccer culture.
To address that issue, Qatar bought the French team, Paris St.-Germain, and started pouring money into a Qatari-owned sports television network by buying up broadcasting rights to European soccer.
Back to the World Cup. Apparently, the powers-that-be failed to recognize the revenue stream that beer sales could create from the millions of beer-loving soccer fans, not to mention the electronic signage that dashes around each arena. So, without owning any of it, they banned the sale of alcohol except in small, designated areas that remind me of the old smoking lounges at American airports.
There are several other restrictions that Islam offers, none better than its ban on homosexual activity. Followers of the faith believe that the entire LBGTQ- community suffers from brain defects. At least one two teams—England and Wales–will a be wearing a “One Love” armband at the Qatar World Cup and are willing to suffer the consequences.
For the record, Qatar’s treatment of women is hardly stellar. And it is rumored that immigrants building the stadiums and hotels were treated like slave labor. There is no record of how many might have died in the process.
Speaking of politics… We’re about 102 weeks away from the next general election and at least once candidate has thrown his red MAGA hat into the ring. This excites all of his followers, with the possible exception of those January 6 insurrectionists who are currently in prison.
By starting this early, the Orange Menace is purposely keeping his name in front of American voters with the help of media that can’t resist reporting his each and every move. Thank God the media at least doesn’t have access to the room with the gold toilet. Left, right and center will keep Trump in the news at every turn, thereby contributing to his rising popularity among voters.
We can be thankful that his kids seem to have faded away, except for occasional news of possible indictments. And half of everybody is pleased that he was re-instated by Twitter.
Though we’re all eager to jump to 2024, we must pay attention to what just happened in the 2022 mid-term elections. Both sides promised the American people the moon, addressing the important challenges that face us as a nation. Now that the Republicans have taken the House by a margin of six, they are eagerly demanding to know, to the penny, how much we spent trying to help Ukraine forces with supplying MREs.
And, lest I forget, the Republicans, first and foremost, need to—finally—find Hunter Biden’s laptop.
If they think he’s that brilliant of a criminal, how can they not think he could figure out a way to dump the laptop into an incinerator that would melt both content and hardware? And how many murderers have failed to notice that the murder weapon could be tossed in a river?
Clearly, the Republican-controlled House needs to start a new search for Hillary’s emails.
Hint: I think they might be on Hunter’s laptop.
Photo illustration by Courtney A. Liska
Greek Lemon Potatoes
2.5 pound medium-sized potatoes
6 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
4 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. honey
¼ tsp. mustard powder
¼ tsp. garlic powder
Heat oven to 350°.
Peel the potatoes and cut them into wedges about 1.5-inches thick.
Add them to a 11 x 7-inch baking dish.
Drizzle the olive oil on top. Sprinkle the potatoes with the oregano and season them with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl or cup add the mustard powder, garlic powder, honey, and lemon juice. Mix well and pour over the potatoes.
Rub the mixture all over the potatoes. Then pour 1 cup of water into the pan from the side (so you don’t rinse the potatoes).
Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes..
Remove the aluminum foil and raise the oven’s temperature to 400°.
Bake for another 15-20 minutes until the potatoes get deep golden on the edges.
Remove the potatoes from the oven, cover the pan again and let stand for 30 minutes before serving.