Half-empty World Cup

Jeremy and I have been looking forward to the World Cup since...well, since the last one ended. We were so excited to be in Jordan during World Cup season for two reasons. First, because we'd be in a better time zone than America to enjoy the games in real time. Second, soccer and sports coverage in general is better here. It turns out we were right on both points, but there's a twist: although the World Cup games will be broadcast on TV, we will be unable to watch any of them. Here's why.

Some Saudi guy named Sheik Saleh Kamel with a pay-per-view TV station (ART) and a lot of money bought up all the rights to show the World Cup games. Now, no other channel in the entire Arab world can show the games without paying ART and thus charging viewers to see them, too. Here in Jordan, it would cost about $400 for us to subscribe to this service.

I thought the World Cup was supposed to be for everyone, not just for the rich. King Abdullah says he'll set up screens in public areas so that we can all watch, which is a wonderful gesture that I hope we'll be able to take advantage of (without fear of public rioting if our team loses, as happened in Moscow when we were there). Otherwise, our only option is to pay a few JDs each for a cover charge to get into a cafe or restaurant who has access to ART and watch the games in a male- and cigarette-smoke-dominated environment.

So, Mr. Kamel, if you're reading this, I just want you to know you've ruined the World Cup for me, and made me want to root for a different team instead of yours. Even if your song is catchy.

Army Day

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