Wednesday 23 November 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 23/11/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Andrew Mueller

Making a fist of it

At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, US sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos mounted the podium to receive the gold and bronze medals that they had respectively won in the men’s 200m race. As The Star-Spangled Banner played, both athletes raised a gloved fist in a Black Power salute (pictured). They did so at considerable cost to their careers (silver medallist Peter Norman of Australia was also ostracised for his support of the Americans). They understood and accepted that effective protest is rarely a risk-free option.

Little of such fortitude has thus far been displayed at the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022. Earlier this week, football’s governing body announced that any captain who consummated a promise to wear a rainbow-striped “One Love” armband on the pitch would be subject to a yellow card. The football associations of England, Wales and several other countries promptly buckled, revealing themselves as willing to take a principled stand only when there was no footballing cost attached. Qatari authorities, apparently emboldened, began confiscating from fans any items adorned with a rainbow motif.

At this early stage, the World Cup is making everybody involved look as good as might have been expected: the hosts like authoritarian weirdos, the guests like craven supplicants. We are such a distance through the looking glass that the prime moral exemplars are the team representing Iran; the subtext to their decision not to sing the country’s anthem prior to kick-off was unmistakable and the risk that they were running was considerable.

The idea that sport can be detached from politics has always been risible, especially where international sport is concerned; it was for political reasons that Qatar bid for the World Cup in the first place. The Gulf state might have calculated that the soft-power benefits would compensate for the criticism – Russia got away with it in 2018, after all. But people knew and admired things about Russia’s past, if not its present. This is – Qatar Airways and Al Jazeera notwithstanding – Qatar’s bow on the world stage. They might have anticipated a different response.

Andrew Mueller is host of ‘The Foreign Desk’ on Monocle 24. For more analysis of the politics surrounding the World Cup, you can tune in here.

Image: Shutterstock

Diplomacy / The Balkans

Plate expectations

Police in Kosovo will impose fines on holders of Serbian-issued number plates from tomorrow, after EU-mediated talks to resolve a dispute over vehicle registration failed. Kosovo, still unrecognised by Serbia, wants citizens with Serbian plates issued before 1999 to replace them with Republic of Kosovo plates. The country’s phased plan, which began with warnings, will eventually ramp up to driving bans for non-compliers from April. Kosovo delayed an initial deadline of Tuesday to allow for more talks, according to Monocle’s Ljubljana correspondent Guy De Launey. “This will be the calm before the storm because once again the fines have been delayed, allowing more time for negotiations and to offer a pause during this tension.” With the plan already facing strong resistance from Serbs, both the EU and Serbia have warned that the imposition of fines could spark violence. In a historically fraught part of Europe, let’s hope that cooler heads prevail.

For more on escalating tensions in the Balkans, tune in to today’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Slush

Business / Finland

Fever pitch

The organisers of Slush, a huge start-up conference in Helsinki, have had to make an embarrassing U-turn after the event’s business-pitching competition awarded a €1m prize to Immigram (pictured), a company promising to facilitate relocation for international IT workers who want to settle in the UK. Critics quickly pointed out that the company seems to focus exclusively on assisting Russians, has a fully Russian workforce and operates in Russia.

Among those who were unhappy was Jaanika Merilo, an adviser to the Ukrainian minister of digital transformation, who called the selection shameful. “While hundreds of Russian rockets are hitting Ukraine, Slush’s jury decided to give the prize to a solution helping Russians get visas to the West,” said Merilo. Slush revoked the prize and might now have learnt about the due diligence essential to any investment. It’s also a lesson that while boycotts against Russia might seem straightforward, the reality in a globalised economy is often more complicated.

Image: Leah Nash


Small pleasures

With crime and the economy high on the agenda in the recent US midterm elections, it’s no surprise that Bozeman, Montana (population: 118,960), is one of the fastest-growing urban centres of its size in the US. Surrounded by mountains with ski slopes, miles of hiking trails and Yellowstone National Park just a short drive away, the setting of the city is stunning. But Bozeman has a lot more than just breathtaking natural assets. Its crime and unemployment rates are well below the national averages; because of its flatness and well-maintained streets, it’s more cycleable and walkable than many larger cities too. Agriculture, tourism and hospitality have long been central to its economy but the city is diversifying, with thriving technology and research sectors. “One of the great things about a growing community is that people with new ideas are coming here,” says Bozeman’s mayor, Cyndy Andrus. “It’s becoming a bit more of a melting pot, which creates a lot of opportunity.”

To find out more about Bozeman and the other cities in Monocle’s Small Cities Index, pick up a copy of ‘The Forecast’.

Publishing / Germany

Matter of life and death

Cain’s Jawbone by Edward Powys Mathers is said to be one of literature’s most difficult crimes to solve: its 100 pages are randomly ordered, with the final sentence of each ending in a full stop. Now that the book is being published in German, a new cohort of readers is entering the crime scene. To drum up readership, the book’s publisher, Suhrkamp Verlag, has borrowed a trick as old as the book itself. The original publisher of Cain’s Jawbone, which first appeared in English in 1934, offered a significant reward (equivalent to about €1,800 today) to the first person to solve the mystery. Some 90 years later, Suhrkamp is similarly offering €1,000 to the first successful sleuth to name the victims and murderers, and correctly order the book’s pages. It’s a reassuring sign of the times: in an era when screens are ubiquitous, the age-old marketing ploys of the publishing industry remain relevant.

Image: Alamy

Monocle 24 / The Urbanist

Harpa concert hall, Reykjavík

Tamsin Howard visits a concert hall in the Icelandic capital that tells the tales of the surrounding culture and landscape.

Monocle Films / Greece

Athens: urban inspiration

Athenians have a knack for injecting pockets of greenery and a sense of innovation into their ancient city. Their urban interventions are aimed at cooling down this dense metropolis and safeguarding its sacred sights as much as the neighbourhood life. We climb its seven hills to get a fresh perspective on the city’s charms.


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