World Cup for sale, any takers?

by admin

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

The most famous tournament in the world brings all together with the same understanding – a festival of football that unites and inspires across all social and racial boundaries…except it’s not anymore really is it. It’s long been accepted as a multinational company cash cow, whored out to any nation willing to fill its trough for FIFA’s officials to snout around in. But we knew this and we still cheered on England….to…success… whats new? Well, new revelations (and by “new” I mean FIFA president Sepp Blatter allegedly knew about bribes taken by FIFA officials years before they were exposed) sink the tournament to a new low. The BBC documentary Panorama: FIFA’s dirty secrets, alleges bribes were received by FIFA officials in a corruption scandal involving over 100 million Dollars of secret payments.

Of course, England 2018 officials have tried to dismiss the findings of the Panorama program. David Dein, England 2018 International president said the program was fit for “The History Channel”, while bid chief Andy Anson described it as “unpatriotic”. To suggest some of the allegations are not worth investigating at the very least by FIFA (which they have not) is to miss the mark as much as Diana Ross missed her penalty at the World Cup ’94 opening ceremony. Is a crime committed ten years ago not worth investigating? Or not considered a problem if enough money is at stake? Even Vladimir Putin, once prime minister of a country considered more dangerous for journalists than Iraq, described the bidding process as “unscrupulous” – hinting at the disillusionment felt among footballing nations for FIFA. These allegations are against the people who decide the destination of the World Cup. The people whom the English bid team schmooze and whisper sweet nothings into the ear of. They simply cannot be allowed to go ignored.

“With two officials already caught out earlier this year, now is a time for transparency and clarity, but all we get is muddied waters.”

Aside from the allegations of bribery made against three of the FIFA officials voting tomorrow, Issa Hayatou, Nicolás Léoz and Ricardo Teixeira, and one allegation of selling on World Cup tickets for profit made by Panorama (Jack Warner), FIFA also has a set of rules each competing bidder must adhere to. Pride of place is the demand that FIFA is allowed to operate entirely on a tax free basis – FIFA earned an estimated 2.1 billion pounds at the 2010 World Cup. Even in the recent World Cup in South Africa, so tight were brand controls that anyone wearing a particular branded Orange Lederhosen were refused entry for fear of scaring off potential lucrative sponsors. It appears FIFA is a money orientated organisation which is willing to risk the best interest of the game for monetary gain. With two officials already caught out earlier this year, now is a time for transparency and clarity, but all we get is muddied waters.

I’d love to see England host the 2018 World Cup, to see football come home and take my children to the greatest spectacle on earth, but I for one hope the Russians get to stage the World Cup – a corrupt and money driven competition for a corrupt country. I would rather live in a country that had the freedom to investigate and hold to account the men and women who abuse their power for their own good than to host FIFA’s now soiled competition and jump into bed with Sepp Blatter.

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  • Chris

    Ambush marketing such as that attempted by Bavaria in both 2010 and 2006 is a tricky one to deal with I imagine. If FIFA didn’t crack down on this I guess it’s possible that corporations would see this as very cheap advertising and crowds would just be awash with corporate branding – let’s face it, those companies are equally as hungry for profit as FIFA. I don’t know the answer, but I can understand the problem.

    It’s no surprise that FIFA is money-oriented, but in all things the good of the game should never be compromised in order to rake in the cash. Interesting to hear Beckham saying that England’s bid has the great strength that as hosts it will be generate more revenue for FIFA than the other countries – fair enough, as long as FIFA’s motivation matches the temper to that statement: “in order to help promote the game around the world.”

  • dexylongshot

    Brilliant piece Peter, I agree totally.

    “FIFA is a money orientated organisation which is willing to risk the best interest of the game for monetary gain”.

    You’ve nailed it with that mate, nailed it.

    AS i put in another post, now is the time for the papers to dish the dirt, i’m sure Sunday will unearth a few new stories, why shouldn’t we investigate, let’s stick it to FIFA, get the evidence (It must be out there) and take it to them, it might not get us the World Cup back but it might force a few of the bigwigs into a corner, we shouldn’t be afraid of FIFA and lick up to them, not now, not ever. Let’s revolt, let’s start up a rival organisation or at least discuss it. FIFA already have it in for us, we haven’t nothing to lose, let em ave it.

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