International escape strategies for the World Cup

I’m not even pretending I care about the World Cup, unless they were all togged out like the photo, below the fold. (Please dont look if you might be offended.) I was at a very posh do in Belfast City Hall the other night, and the conversation turned to… yep… THAT football match. While everyone at the table snootily declared their condecension for said games, they then proceded to talk about nothing else for 30 minutes.

In Israel one woman fears the moment ‘a piercing shriek is going to tear our family apart – the opening whistle of the World Cup soccer games. At that moment, and for a month of days, a statue which bears a strong resemblance to my children’s father will be positioned on our living room couch, glued to the TV. The man sitting there won’t be the man we know. He won’t look like my he-man because his eyes will go from bright and searching to a glazed affixed stare of a creature on the couch.’

The Bangok Post on the other hand is reporting that there will be a huge increase in sex trafficking for the duration of the World Cup. It talks about Germany, so I assume this is where all the action is going to be. They are commenting on an American report that says there are reports of thousands of women being transported to Germany for sex during the World Cup, “All the research and evidence available shows that when you have large flows of women for sexual purposes there is going to be trafficking.” Prostitution is permitted in regulated brothels in Germany, but many women operate illegally and without government licenses, in part because a large number of them come from Eastern Europe and do not have work permits. Others are victims of forced labour.

It seems though that everyone is getting in on the game (so to speak), with the Catholic Church printing a useful leaflet for prostitutes. The Catholic Church is also involved in a number of ecumenical projects relating to the social issues raised by the World Cup. Women’s organizations have started a campaign against forced prostitution, which many fear could substantially increase to serve the demands of the many fans coming to Germany. Women’s religious orders are offering brochures in the various languages likely to be used by the prostitutes.

The Catholic Church has set up a Web site, – which means “church on the ball” -offering information about regional activities, as well as tips for liturgical elements related to the World Cup. These include intercessions asking for fairness in play and joy among the spectators, and even for tolerance from those who are not interested in soccer. The site includes tips for sermons and a series of prayers based on an alphabet of soccer terms.

Maybe I’ll spend the next month reporting on how all the non-footie people in the world are managing…… all 10 of us

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