World

The World Corruption Games

The 2018 World Cup mascot outside a stadium in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, March 31, 2018. (Sergey Pivovarov/Reuters)
Get ready for next month’s World Cup in Russia, with a look at a more straightforward future global tournament.

The scene: Two anchors in the closed booth of a sports stadium.

Mike: Welcome, everybody, to the 2022 World Corruption Games in Doha, Qatar! I’m Mike Waters, along with Barry Amila, your anchors for all three weeks of live exciting international corruption action! You’ll recall that after the controversies at the Olympics, World Cup, and other major international sporting events, some voices argued that all the competitions really measured was skill in bribery, threats, and other forms of illicit influence. So the world’s governments, FIFA, and the International Olympic Committee got together and decided to organize a competition to settle the real question: Which country is the true champion when it comes to corruption?

Barry: You know, Mike, we might not be here if it wasn’t for the Russians and their groundbreaking efforts in the back-to-back hosting of the Olympics in Sochi in 2014 and the World Cup in 2018. Bribery, defending chants of “monkey” at African players, turning a blind eye to violent anti-gay purges, all kinds of construction problems at the venues . . . but I think it was the mass slaughter of stray dogs before both events that put them over the top.

Mike: Rhetoric from Moscow has always denounced “running dogs,” Barry, I guess now we know they really mean it!

Barry: That’s what makes Russia such a strong favorite in these games, Mike, an absolutely unrivaled killer instinct.

Mike: There are a lot of exiles and Putin critics who would agree, Barry — if they were still around. Russia really demonstrates the inner driving fire of a corruption champion, because a lot of countries might have flinched at the thought of using North Korean laborers to build their soccer stadiums, but not the Russians.

Barry: Look, those stadiums aren’t going to build themselves, and once a host country has promised to build giant, state-of-the-art stadiums on tight deadlines, you’re going to need a lot of expendable laborers, working at least eleven hours a day for ten to 15 bucks a day, seven days a week.

Mike: Not surprising to hear that some of these guys are keeling over on the job. Once again, you have to salute FIFA’s absolute dedication to corruption to be able to turn a blind eye to conditions like that. This is what separates the men from the boys in exploitation.

Barry: But let’s not count out our host country, Qatar, in the Secret Slush Funds competition. The very fact that they’re hosting these first World Corruption Games is a testament to their skill and precision at bribing host-city selection committees!

Some might think that an equatorial desert country is a ridiculous spot to host an athletic competition, but that didn’t stop the World Cup committee from awarding the 2022 games to Qatar.

Mike: The competitors are really feeling the heat in Doha today, as it’s a balmy 108 degrees Fahrenheit out there! Some might think that an equatorial desert country is a ridiculous spot to host an athletic competition, but that didn’t stop the World Cup committee from awarding the 2022 games to Qatar, on their promise to build multiple high-tech cooling stadiums — and when that promise turned out to be impossible, they moved the World Cup to winter. Now it’s just the virtual-slave migrant workers who have to build the stadiums in unsafe working conditions in 100-degree heat!

Barry: But it’s a dry heat, Mike.

Mike: These games may be in Doha for now, but there’s no guarantee that Doha will remain part of Qatar. Remember, just days after the Sochi Olympics ended, Russian forces rolled into Crimea. Vladimir Putin might just invade and conquer any rival host city. That’s the sort of thing that could cost you a World Cup hosting opportunity, if you don’t have one of the strongest and most competitive corruption teams in the world.

Barry: Always a possibility, Mike, I guess you could say that any world city could be Russian with enough time and effort.

Mike: Who do you like in the bribery competitions?

Barry: Oh, Mike, so many strong competitors in the field in recent years: the Brazilians, the Japanese, the Chinese . . . the Stars and Stripes shouldn’t be counted out, but let’s face it, the glory days of the Salt Lake City games were a long time ago. There’s an argument that a lot of young Americans, who have the natural talent for this, just aren’t getting into corruption the way they used to.

Mike: It’s a tragedy, Barry. I blame the video games . . . But that’s enough talk, it’s time for some corruption action here in Doha. Here comes the first competitor, Neville Fenwick of the United Kingdom, who’s going to try to slip a bribe into the pocket of a referee . . . ooh, he’s keeling over! Just a few steps away from the ref and something went terribly wrong! Maybe he pulled a muscle or something, maybe he —

Barry: Nope, nope, that’s not a strain, Mike, I’ve seen that before — that’s a reaction to Novichok nerve agent, one of the favorite tools of the Moscow team when they need somebody taken out.

Mike: Wow. He’s going to feel that one in the morning!

Barry: Most countries would face an automatic expulsion for throwing around nerve gas on another country’s soil, but Russia finds a way to escape serious consequence, time after time. You really have to salute the Russians and their commitment to victory here, Mike. I mean, literally, you have to salute them, or they might kill you.

Mike: We’ll be back after this, for live coverage of the fierce competition in beating drug and doping tests! Keep it right here, because you’re-in for some excitement!

Most Popular

Elections

In Defense of the Electoral College

Senator Elizabeth Warren has joined a growing chorus within the Democratic party in calling for the abolition of the Electoral College. Speaking at a forum in Mississippi on Monday night, Warren said that she hoped to ensure that “every vote matters” and proposed that “the way we can make that happen is ... Read More
Elections

Stick a Fork in O’Rourke

If, as I wrote last week here, Joe Biden may save the Democratic party from a horrible debacle at the polls next year, Beto O’Rourke may be doing the whole process a good turn now. Biden, despite his efforts to masquerade as the vanguard of what is now called progressivism, is politically sane and, if ... Read More
National Security & Defense

In Defense of the Iraq War

Today is the 16th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and Twitter is alive with condemnations of the conflict -- countered by precious few defenses. Yet I believed the Iraq War was just and proper in 2003, and I still believe that today. When Donald Trump condemned the war during the 2015 primary campaign and ... Read More
Elections

Beto-mania and Our Cult of Personality Politics

Robert “Beto” O’Rourke’s biggest fans and supporters insist he is a forward-thinking, future-oriented visionary, but no contender for the Democratic nomination feels more familiar than the former three-term congressman from El Paso. That’s because he has the highest combined score in both déjà vu ... Read More