The FIFA Men’s World Cup started on Nov. 21, 2022 and 32 teams play each other for the chance to become the Men’s World Cup Champions. Due to COVID fluctuating quarantines, the men in San Quentin have had very little of a season.
Just recently, the soccer team from the outside had to cancel a game before the holidays due to one of the mainline blocks being quarantined. Aside from pickup games with Outside volunteers, the men still would find a way to come together on some weekends to play the game they love and also bond over the sport.
To UC Berkeley student Armon Owlia, who comes into the prison to edit stories for the SQNews and earn extra credit for his journalism class, I had the opportunity to get him to share a little of his passion for soccer and how
he and his family would bond over sport.
Timothy Hicks: How is it going? From listening to your wealth of knowledge on sports, I figure that you are a soccer fan as well. The World Cup has started and I am curious to know which team are you are going for?
Armon Owlia: I’m fine and yes, I am a huge soccer fan. Man that’s a good question. Of course I am going for my hometown Iran, but I know that they won’t win it.
TH: Futbol is not my wheelhouse but I do watch the World Cup, especially when the USA is in it. So, who are your other alternatives?
AO: Well, I have six but, one is America. The others are Spain, France, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil – basically, any European country. I’m just a big fan of soccer altogether.
TH: How long have you been a soccer fan?
AO: I’ve actually been a fan since I was about 8 years old.
TH: Have you ever played the game?
AO: Yeah, I tried playing it when I was young but I soon realized that I’m no good at it. (Smiles)
TH: Who or what was it that sparked your interest in soccer?
AO: One of my most memorable moments was when I was growing up with my family. Every year we would all gather around the TV and watch the World Cup. It’s a family tradition. Soccer was and still is a sport that unifies people. That was one of the few sports my mom would watch — my whole family, in fact.
TH: Who are some of your favorite soccer players?
AO: Pele, Lionel Messi, Neymar and David Beckham, to say the least.
TH: Men’s soccer just made history recently. They had its first woman referee to ever judge the Men’s World Cup, Katy Nesbitt. The games are in Qatar too, one of the world’s non-liberal places. How do you feel about the games being there?
AO: I’m boycotting the games this year because of it.
AO: Their stance on human rights is ridiculous. The World Cup is a venue where politics meets sports, and can sometimes be a launch point for diplomacy, much like the Olympics. You know it’s the case when Tony Blinken, the secretary of state, is one of the most notable guests. Had it been somewhere else, I would be watching.
TH: I am unfamiliar with their policies over there. What are some of the things that they do over there that make you feel the way you do?
AO: They don’t serve alcohol, which is fine, but kind of contradictory considering Budweiser is a sponsor. The one that bothers me though is their stance on homosexuality. A person would have to hide their sexual orientation if they are gay, and if it was found out or even something simple as kissing their partner or husband, they would be put to death. It’s unacceptable, straight up. So, because of that, I feel that I may not support the World Cup this year.