FIGC Own Goal



They could have held the Supercoppa anywhere. It’s been held in the United States, China, Libya, and Qatar. But they chose Saudi Arabia. Not for the fans, not for the game, not for sport, but for money. They did not consider the potential backlash when the world learned what kind of a place the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was. They just wanted a paycheck. And instead, they scored a massive own goal.

Spinning a terrible decision still doesn't justify that decision

President of the Lega Serie A and thus also vice president of the FIGC, Gaetano Micciché attempted to defend the decision this week, and that also went very badly. The decision was made months before the well-publicized October murder and dismemberment of Jamal Kashoggi, he said. The world has been screaming human rights violations at the crown prince of Saudi Arabia since then, meanwhile there are reports of evidence that the prince himself ordered the killing. It’s a nightmare, and while Italy had plenty of time to choose a new venue since early October, and many groups have begged for them to do so, they stuck with their decision.

It’s not like the murder should have surprised anyone. Saudi Arabia is governed by Sharia Law, written between 700-1000 B.C. by religious prophets. The FIGC should know about this, because they have done nothing to reform since that time, either. The punishments within Sharia Law include public beheading, hanging, stoning, amputation, and lashing. These apply not only to traditional offenses that are considered criminal elsewhere, but also to made up offenses such as apostasy, witchcraft, and sorcery. So one little well-publicized murder may not have been enough for the FIGC to break their contract, but the day to day human rights offenses of the religious-based legal system should have seen them never make the contract in the first place.

Women treated like third tier citizens

The focus this week has been the rights of women in Saudi Arabia. As tickets went on sale, it became widely known that women were only allowed to sit in the sections for “families,” most of which are located in the third tier. There is a dispute as to whether or not a woman can attend unaccompanied, as Sharia Law dictates that a woman may not go anywhere without a male relative with her. But Micciché argued that women will be able to attend unaccompanied, and that this match will be the first international football match in Saudi Arabia where women will be able to attend. So he is championing the gender segregation, because it is, in his mind, better than not being able to attend at all. That’s an idea that was also likely formed between the seventh and tenth centuries.

A woman on Twitter from the area informed me that women being required to be accompanied by men and to sit in family sections was a good thing, because that way, the women can avoid the harassment that they would receive in the other sections. Really? I had to ask myself if Twitter was also around in the seventh and tenth centuries. The fact that men would harass them at all is a massive part of the problem. In Saudi Arabia, women need four to six male witnesses to prove that they were raped, or to file a lawsuit. And often, women who are raped are not allowed any justice, instead they are stoned to death for committing adultery. A man’s worth is at least twice a woman’s, and polygamy is practiced, but only for the males. The average Saudi male can take up to four wives, whereas the crown prince has thirty wives. And a man can divorce a woman without even telling her.

Women having equal access to football works in the rest of the world

There are so many human rights violations in Saudi Arabia every day involving women. There are only three stadiums in the whole country where women can attend at all, including the one in Jeddah, so segregation at the football stadium is tragically one of the least impactful violations of basic human rights. Women were afforded the permission to begin driving this year, however since they cannot go anywhere without a man’s permission, or even take a bus at all, it’s not like they know what the word “freedom” means, let alone gender equality.

All of this was known when the league and the FIGC chose Jeddah as the location. But they chose it anyway, presumably for money. What they didn’t realize, with their spectacular own goal, was that it will cost them more in the end. RAI is threatening to not show the game, and other broadcasters may also boycott it based on the more recent human rights issues. That means the fans won’t get to see it. So it’s not just the women who can’t watch, it’s all of the fans domestically in Italy as well as internationally.  And if the fans can’t watch the game, why would they continue to support Serie A? In addition to the possible loss of broadcasting money and the potential the loss of fans to come see Serie A matches, buy jerseys, etc., all of the negative press could impact current and future sponsors. In the end, they could actually lose so much more than they will be paid for this match. But hey, stick with a bad decision.

Sure, let the first football women see be an accused rapist who is still free at the expense of a powerless woman

Also, Micciché, if this is the first match Saudi women are going to see, really? You’ve seen what Milan are playing like. That’s like a form of punishment from Sharia Law right there. They’ve also got to listen to Allegri’s whiny, weasely voice screaming “Dai Dai Dai” and watch an alleged rapist run around free as any Saudi male who has raped one or more women. If you are going to act like this is some kind of historical moment for Saudi women, the least you could do would be to set up a match that was worth watching.

As a religious person myself, I can respect the religious and cultural beliefs of other religions and people. Unless human rights are violated, then I don’t care why, there is a problem. There is no place in this world for anyone to be treated differently based on gender, race, ethnicity, etc. There is no place in this world for people to be so publicly and inhumanely punished. The rest of the world has moved forward at least slightly past the tenth century. And I’ll be damned if you tell a woman how and where she can watch football, if at all. But more heinous than adhering to religious laws from the tenth century are the FIGC and the Lega Serie A adhering to poor business models from around the same time and supporting those caveman ways. That, Micciché, is a disgusting own goal.


This post inspired by the music of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"

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