World Cup 2022: Dear FIFA, please give it a rest with all your propaganda and let footballers play football - Stuart Rayner
This time chief of global football development Arsene Wenger claimed teams involved in "political demonstrations" at this World Cup have suffered on the field.
World football's governing body has been fighting a propaganda war in Qatar, desperately trying to defend the indefensible so as not to upset their generous hosts.
Long after writing to the players essentially telling them to shut up and concentrate on football, they really should follow their own advice.
Australia released a protest video ahead of the tournament, and lost their opening game to France. Germany's players covered their mouths before their first match to show they felt they had been gagged by FIFA and lost to Japan.
Denmark’s training kit was banned by FIFA because of slogans supporting human rights, Wales flew rainbow flags in training and Belgium had to take the word "Love" off their away kit (how dare they use such provocative language?). All went out after disappointing groups.
Iran lost 6-2 in game one after refusing to sing the national anthem.
But Iran were playing England, who were disgracefully threatened minutes before they headed to the stadium with unspecified sanctions if Harry Kane decided to wear a "One Love" armband.
"The teams (who did well) were mentally ready," claimed Wenger. "They had focus on the competition and not on political demonstrations."
The Netherlands and France supported the One Love protest and, like England, have had great tournaments. So did Switzerland, who many were surprised to see in the knockouts.
Maybe Wenger is talking absolute rubbish. Or maybe he does not understand some players are professional and mentally strong enough to think about one thing before a game and another during it, like England in the last European Championship taking the knee and boos all the way to the final.
You would think a Frenchman with strong affection for Japan, not to mention great football knowledge, might recognise Australia lost because France are pretty handy at football. Or that Japan's substitutions turned a match that Germany, like Australia, started well in.
Belgium and Wales's exits surely owed more to being over-reliant on players past their best than protesting against some of the despicable things the cowards at FIFA turned an obsequiously blind eye to.
President Gianni Infantino ridiculously equated playground bullying with being locked up for your sexual preference or worked to death on a building site.
It sounds like every time his face is beamed onto stadium big screens it is booed. That he is set to stand uncontested for re-election is baffling.
Then came the armband furore – delayed long enough to affect the players FIFA should be trying to get the best out of.
They messed up giving Qatar this World Cup but for a long time there has been nothing anyone could do about it. Doubling down on things it should know to be wrong is making things worse.
Can we please just let the footballers play football?