Against the backdrop of the 2018 World Cup, which is hosted by Russia, Syrian journalist and human rights activist Mansour Al-'Omari, in an article on the Syrian opposition website Enabbaladi.net, harshly criticized the countries that are participating in the tournament or broadcasting the matches while ignoring grievous crimes perpetrated in Syria by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who "is hosting the World Cup with one hand while he incinerates civilians and children in Dar'a [Syria] with the other."
Al-'Omari called on Syrians not to take part in promoting the World Cup, since any open participation in such activity makes them accomplices of their killer, Putin. Instead, they should act on social media to raise awareness of "Russia's crime in Dar'a" among the governments and sports associations of the participating countries. If they still possess even "one drop of morality or human dignity," he added, the countries that advocate human rights should stop "wading through the human body parts to win a cup stained with the blood of [Syrian] children," and drop out of the tournament, thereby proving that they belong to the human race and truly support peace.
"Russia Is Hosting the World Cup" –while Putin holds the cup decorated with deadly weapons and the blood of his victims (source: Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, June 15, 2018)
"Russia's Finals in Syria!" – FIFA-logo airplanes and bombs attack in Syria (source: Al-Arabi Al-Jadid, London, June 26, 2018)
Al-'Omari also criticized the Qatari BeIN Sports TV channel, which is broadcasting the World Cup, and Al-Jazeera, which he said is currently ignoring Russia's crimes in Syria. He also criticized FIFA for, he said, prioritizing financial considerations over moral ones.
The following are translated excerpts of Al-Omari's article:
"The Time Has Come For Athletes Too To Prove That They Are Part Of The Human Race, And Not Alienated From It"
"On June 19, as the Russian team played Egypt and the world followed the World Cup matches in Russia, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin carried out a massive aerial attack on the entire [Syrian] province of Dar'a, which included bombing and a ground invasion by Syrian regime [forces] and the militias supporting it. In the extensive attack, women and children were killed, and some 250,000 were uprooted, and wandered from place to place seeking shelter from Putin's airplanes. The Russian bombs also targeted hospitals and shelters, killed those inside, and hunted down the civilians who fled to the plains and woods.
"All this [happened] and the world did not lift a finger. Moreover, it was unprecedentedly silent when Putin destroyed other regions in Syria. For the thousandth time, despair, astonishment, and rage spread on the Syrians' social media accounts. These feelings must not be taken lightly, because they expressed the [Syrians'] loss of all hope concerning brotherhood among peoples, [respect for] of the principles of human rights, and humanitarianism in general...
"I was accustomed to always seeing [in the Syrians] a spark of hope protecting them from absolute alienation from the human race. [This hope] is the result of the work of the human rights organizations that continue to document what is happening and to support the Syrians as best they can. Perhaps the time has come for athletes too to prove that they are part of the human race, and not alienated from it."
"It Must Be Ensured That Photos And Reports About Russia's Crime [In Syria] Reach The Participating Teams' Governments, Coaches... And [All] The Players – So That They Will Not In Future Be Able To Claim That They Didn't Know"
"Will history witness, say, the Swedish team's win of the human rights cup, not the [FIFA World] Cup that is stained with the blood of their Syrian brothers? Or will the world's teams continue to make their way among the human body parts to win a cup stained with the blood of [Syrian] children?
"The Syrian regime has begun [the battle in the south] with some clashes in Dar'a to test the world's reaction, while the U.S. sent a message to the residents of Dar'a [stating], 'We are no longer defending you.' Russia carried out a number of attacks, and the world did nothing, but remained immersed in the World Cup. In light of this, Russia started incinerating Dar'a and everyone in it. It bombed a number of cities, towns, and villages simultaneously, and [again] the world did nothing. After that, it began to attack hospitals, to hunt down civilians on the plains, and to bomb shelters. How fortunate and happy Putin is with the governments of this world!
"One way or another, it must be ensured that photos and reports about Russia's crime [in Syria] reach the participating teams' governments, coaches, and sports associations, and [all] the players, so that they will not in future be able to claim that they didn't know – so that [it will be clear that] they knew and ignored it. This is so that their peoples can demand that they account [for their actions] later, or so their own consciences [will demand it], if they [ever] awaken. [In order to accomplish this], for example, the Syrians or anyone else supporting them can, at the very least, flood the players' and teams' social media accounts with photos, videos, and reports about Russia's crime in Dar'a.
"FIFA must stop the World Cup at once. [But] this is nearly impossible, because FIFA has shown no commitment to or interest in human rights – only in revenues... So the countries must be the ones to act; they are well aware of the impact of sports in whitewashing the oppressing governments and increasing their popularity in their own countries and among the peoples of the world. Some will say that anyone dropping out of the World Cup will [according to FIFA regulations] be banned from participating in the next one. [But] this would be an exceptional [case], because the withdrawal will not be for the usual [reasons], but for the sake of a higher goal than all others, and one in line with the first aim of sports – supporting world peace and improving relations among people to protect humanity..."
If They Still Had One Drop Of Morality Or Human Dignity, Teams Would Drop Out Of The World Cup
"Will the [Qatari sports] channel BeIN Sports stop broadcasting the World Cup and give up millions of dollars [in revenue] – a measure that would comprise historic support of the human race and resistance to murder? The [Qatari] Al-Jazeera TV [usually] jumps on all reports by Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations, hosting experts to discuss nearly every such report. But this time, Al-Jazeera completely ignored HRW's reports on the World Cup... Al-Jazeera has ignored all the calls and activism for boycotting the World Cup for one reason – not to interfere with the Qatari BeIN Sports [TV, which is broadcasting the World Cup]. Al-Jazeera – that has played an historic role in disseminating information among the Arab peoples, opening their eyes to a reality that government media outlets did not reveal – thinks that the catastrophe of the Syrians is not sufficient reason to impose a media blackout on the World Cup...
"As a Syrian who suffered for years from the crimes of Assad and Putin, you are entitled to relax, for example by watching a [soccer] match if you are a fan of the sport. But beware not to fall into the trap of promoting your murderers [i.e. Russia]. You can follow the World Cup at home or with your friends.. but it is absolutely inappropriate to take part in any activity that advances it, including paying in any way [to view it] or morally supporting activity for promoting it – including posting graphics, 'liking' posts, and commenting [on the subject] on Facebook. Any open participation in promoting the World Cup makes you an accomplice to whitewashing Putin's black page, and you will be just the same as someone who supports his own murderer.
"You must not pay a single penny to BeIN Sports, because by doing so you are throwing your money into the stockpile of money that Russia is earning from it, and that Putin is using to fund his war. If you are morally or legally committed not to watch pirated TV, you can watch the games for free on many international channels, including Turkish ones and others. But if you insist on commentary in Arabic, then it is better not to watch the games than to contribute to this historic crime...
"If one drop of morality or human dignity remained in the consciences of the countries that advocate human rights, their teams would drop out of the World Cup – which Putin is hosting with one hand while he incinerates civilians and children in Dar'a with the other – and those who profit from it and promote it would stop doing so, and drop out of this moral atrophy."
 Enabbaladi.net, July 1, 2018.