Saturday, November 09, 2013

the broken butterfly upon the spinning wheel

hi there

ok peeps, this is one of them semi-serious posts, so feel free to skip.i just read the latest interesting idea from Sepp "bellend" Blatter in regards of the 2022 World Cup, theoretically to be held in the massive nation of Qatar.

what's his latest idea? why, that Qatar, with a landsize perhaps marginally bigger than Gibraltar, might in fact end up "co-hosting" the World Cup with a few fellow nations in, according to Sepp, "the Middle East".

Sepp's vision of nations in the Middle East happily spending money to assist Qatar is not too far away from his ideas on resolving racist incidents in respect of the thinking it shows.and by that i mean misguided, yet some how in some bizarre way beyond most of us seemingly innocent in his own mind.

picture by World Economic Forum
the problem that Sepp, and theoretically FIFA, has with Qatar all of a sudden co-hosting is the same one that they have with the idea of moving it to a November-December tournament instead of the traditional June-July one. whatever merits it has, it is simply not what the "winning" Qatar bid was for, and so changing the terms is likely to see a legal challenge from the nations that lost out. of the other nations that bid, one would say Japan and South Korea were always going to be unlikely to win, having co-hosted (as per their bid before the decision was made) in 2002, but i suspect most football fans around the world would have been delighted to see it go to Australia, or indeed the USA again.

in the comments section on one web page reporting on the co-hosting plan, someone wrote :

Is there no regulatory body, no investigative journalist, no one at all to find out the real reasons why Qatar got the world cup?

as it happens, a great many investigations have happened. an awful lot has been written about what those investigations reveal. findings get reported regularly, but it does not change anything, since FIFA seem to operate with the kind of impunity the likes of Putin could only dream of.

most reports, and you can google them if you wish, all seem to lead back to one chap in particular. and that chap is not Sepp Blatter.

picture by Downing Street (yes that one)
yes, that's Nicholas Sarkozy, the former French President. the one that was so bad even the French would rather forget about him. as bad as a President he was (and i don't think that it's his fault no one invaded so he couldn't get the special "we surrender" pen out), all the investigations seem to suggest that he is a sterling politician, or at the least player of the political game.

Mr Sarkozy really, really likes the (vast amounts of money that you can find in) Middle East. his close ties to Qatar were apparently behind the deal made where Sarkozy would ensure that France voted for the Qatar bid, and indeed that pressure would be applied to UEFA President, professional Gerard Depardieu lookalike and fellow Frenchman Michel Platini to lead Europe into similar voting.

yes, FIFA normally do not like political interference but it seems exceptions can be made.

how would Sarkozy benefit from all of this? Qatar just handing him a huge some of money would be not on, even for politicians. apparently the deal was that if Qatar won, Qatar would then invest heavily in a French football team, and would also set up a pay-TV service to rival and crush a similar service that Sarkozy did not care for. both have happened.

Sarkozy is perhaps then just a typical political sh!tbag, in it for personal wealth and if someone builds a statue of him too then that's nice. exactly how, though, did he persuade Michel Platini to get in on this?

picture by Anders Vindegg
perhaps the greatest tragedy in the politics of modern football is Michel Platini. when he became president of UEFA, fans rejoiced - a true football man in charge of the game, at last. how quickly that all changed.

something that also seems to have changed is the idea that Platini was Blatter's successor as president of FIFA. this was assumed as a formality, but over the last few years not so much. perhaps Platini has decided a career in French politics is more profitable for him than continuing in football. that would certainly explain making political decisions rather than footballing ones, in particular when he would have had the comfort in knowing his old mate Sepp would get the flak, not him.

Platini seems to be a man who can change his mind to suit the conditions. when he began his quest to bring Financial Fair Play into European football - at a time when big spending English clubs were dominant - he was quick to be critical of large sponsorship deals, such as the one at Manchester City, being used to avoid compliance with his rules. oddly Platini made no comment of concern around the PSG deal mentioned above, and certainly did not have anything bad to say about Barcelona's sponsorship deal.

picture by Vinoth Thambirdurai

all of this, of course, comes on top of FIFA themselves considering Qatar to be less than suitable for hosting the World Cup. let it not be said that FIFA are not transparent - here's their report.

exactly why Qatar have got a bee in their bonnet about hosting the World Cup is another question. "because they can (buy it)" seems to be the only real answer there.

as for Sepp, well, believe it or not, i think he's the victim of his own good intentions. yes, strange to hear someone defending him. my view is that the rest of FIFA has him over a barrel. when Sepp came to power, he made it clear that he wanted the game to be global, for the World Cup to go around the world more than it did. he pressed hard for South Africa to win the bid for 2006, and pressed really hard to make sure they got it in 2010. i suspect FIFA members feel that they are "owed" for this wish of Sepp, and they are exploiting the financial benefits of "taking the tournament around the world" to the full.

if Platini is a man who seems compromised for all the wrong reasons, at the least Blatter seems to have been doing right, but it has cost him dearly. still, he has made some very nice and reasonable friends on the way, so there you go.

the above has more or less been a summary of the reports published out there. my own view is pretty much that by 2022 i do not believe anyone is going to care for the World Cup all that much, certainly not as much as we all once did. 2002 was the last really ace one from a footballing experience. 2006 is remembered only as far as Zidane's class headbutt; 2010 recalled fondly for the vuvuzela. the football at both tournaments was dire, not much better is expected at 2014.

the Champions League sees the best players from around the world play with and against each other every year. without fail the games are better than internationals, the tension and drama considerably higher up the scale. with the 2014 and 2018 tournaments being held in timezones not suited to the majority of fans around the world, i am really not convinced that in 2022 any football lover will remain convinced that the World Cup is the biggest or best prize in the game.

and that's a really bad and sad thing. if 2018 and 2022 in particular turn out to be financial and reputational disasters for FIFA, this could at the least be cathartic - if there's no more huge amounts of money to be made, perhaps real football people will take over.

as for why FIFA have not been taken to task officially on the whole Qatar thing, it's because so far, to the letter, nothing has been done wrong as such. the moment they either try to change the date of the tournament, or change the hosting arrangements, watch the legal challenges fly in.

if for some reason you read all of this, many thanks indeed for doing so.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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