Coffee House

Does the trouble at FIFA really matter?

31 May 2011

1:23 PM

31 May 2011

1:23 PM

The news that the votes which ended up with Russia and Qatar winning the rights to host
the 2018 and 2022 World Cups might not have been model, clean elections is about as surprising as the news that the faeces discovered in the woods are believed to be of ursine origin. In the
Independent today, Dominic Lawson cuts through the
seemingly continuous media coverage of the matter to the question of whether it actually matters:

“More to the point, given that there are no objective economic benefits to the nations holding such competitions (whatever the kudos to local political dignitaries such as Boris
Johnson) shouldn’t we as taxpayers feel grateful if other countries managed to offer more successful bribes? They, and not us, are the ones who’ve been Blattered.”

Automatic qualification for the World Cup and home advantage for the first time since 1966 would have been very nice. But considering what everyone knew had to be done to win and how far other
countries were prepared to go, it wasn’t worth bidding for the right to host the tournament in the first place.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • AliC

    What Edward said (again).

    Football as seen today is nothing to do with sport and everything to do with corruption, gambling and bling (empty) commercialism. Yuk. I would rather watch a school team, at least the kids are unpaid and love to pay for the game alone.

  • Bill Fraser

    Sepp Blatter’s “re-election” was reminiscent of eastern Europe under the communists, only he didn’t get a 99% vote…

    Maybe those in UEFA should set up a rival organisation to FIFA, or simply just walk out of FIFA.

  • whatawaste

    A quote from that upstanding citizen Julio Grondona on refereeing in Argentina:

    “I do not believe a Jew can ever be a referee at this level. It’s hard work and, you know, Jews don’t like hard work.” (“Julio’s a monumental man!” says Sepp. “We are friends for ever.”)

    Are Adidas, Coca Cola and the Emirates happy with such comments?

  • whatawaste

    There are two burning issues that need to be sorted out in FIFA. The method by which host countries are selected has been wellcovered.

    What many do not seem to realise is that once the host country has been selected the power given to FIFA on all planning and building decisions is absolute. This goes for anthing from stadia to transport and hotels infrastructure.

    Take Brazil due to host in 2014, IF all the extra building gets done. Sao Pualo the richest city in South America had one large stadium refurbished with a capacity of 85,000. FIFA said the refurbishment was not to their standard so really wanted a new stadium. At one point Sao Paulo was a doubtful venue, but now the hosts have ceded ground will build a new stadia – yet to start I believe, so not much time left.

    New railways have been built for passenger trains in a country that uses rail predominantly for freight traffic. Like South Africa there have been many brand new stadia built, but the money would have been bettwer spent on health matters but FIFA do not give a stuff for the poor or disadvantged.

    How democratically elected governments can be usurped in this manner is beyond me. I do not really care if England won the bid or not, but although the England bid ticked all the boxes there would be no absolute certainty that FIFA would agree with potential venues and that the infrastructure was satrisfactory.

    This is my main gripe against Blatter and FIFA, as the so called economic benefits will hardly make a dent in the vast spending outlay. FIFA’s take in the financial receipts are not small fry either. then there are the little tings like FIFA executives having carte blanche to take suitcases packed with cash in or out of the host country. I could go on but it is too dispiriting.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    As one of my ‘t’ shirts sez

    “Eat Football
    Drink Football
    Talk Shite”

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Dimoto, of course the FA can be fixed. It acts within the jurisdiction of English law. If it has not been fixed it is because there are issues with our MPs, not that the task is impossible. FIFA is outside English jurisdiction and must be dealt with by a boycott and the development of a different organisation. It does not matter to me at all whether or not England plays against various African teams, I’d rather watch matches against the major football nations.

  • Spelling

    The President of FIFA is described as a Swiss shouldn’t that be a Swizz?

  • J Wright

    Surely,Blatters actions somehow ,sometime,someway infringe my Human Rights . Cannot this useless foreign law be used yto do something usefull

  • Dimoto

    The Blatter bashers would do well to remember that the European associations all agreed to back Lennart Johansson.
    Then, for reasons unbeknown, England broke ranks and voted for Blatter.
    Anyone know why ?

    And Peter from Maidstone – nobody in England can “fix” the FA.
    Numerous “parliamentary initiatives” have failed. Even her majesty’s customs and revenue can’t get footballers to pay their income tax, nor do away with the iniquitous ‘football creditors rule’ (an FA rule to make football a preferred creditor).
    They don’t even adhere to the law of the land.
    …. and don’t get me started on unregulated “agents” !

  • terence patrick hewett

    Ugly game. Ugly people.

  • Ian

    Of course it matters that the body running football is utterly corrupt and is accountable to no one. FIFA has been a mafioso-style organisation for decades and most of its (past and present) office holders should be behind bars. Bizarre in the extreme to read that Forsyth is so insouciant about institutional corruption.
    First post from Peter from M. is spot on.

  • John Findlater

    Blatter reminds me of the bad guys in the James Bond movies,,slimy, creepy, a bit like Blofield,,,,,,,,so where is 007 James Bond licened to kill when we need him.

    As for the FIFA toerags and crooks meeting in Switzerland today,, couldn,t we spare a couple of RAF Tornadoes with bunker busting bombs to exterminate this rats nest.

  • Widmerpool

    At long last a use for the European Court of Human Rights Ha Ha! Presumably Switerland is a signatory to the Human Rights Convention. It would be fun to see the Judges get their teeth into Blatter.

  • Bloody Bill Brock

    God, its making me so tired. Its a crap game played and managed by appalling people and watched by tribalists, who are to thick for politics. FIFA, are about what you would expect.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    The FA may or may not be bent. It can be fixed because it is an English problem and can be made subject to English law. There are lots of things which could be done to preserve the English game, and which may happen as English teams go bust in increasing numbers. But FIFA is beyond English jurisdiction and therefore the proper response, if a bunch of crooked Caribbeans (and many others) want to carry on as they are, is to withdraw our support and see if a new, more transparent and honest organisation can better serve the major football playing nations. In what crazy world does it matter what anyone from Trindad and Tobago thinks about international football, and in what truly twisted universe is their vote (available on a sliding scale of fees) worth just as much as the English one?

    We can fix the FA, FIFA is simply deserving of contempt.

  • Michael

    Sir Graphus, possible something went wrong with the comments system on the debt item. My sweet, relevant, worthy and innocent entry there, pointing out the considerable increase in interest only mortgaging was not published.

  • Alan Scott

    Surely we should strike at the sponsors (who have sadi they are uneasy).
    Why not a campaign to forego CocaCola etc until they withdraw their financial support for these criminally corrupt people in FIFA?

  • Gelert

    I had Russia and Qatar for the 2018/22 wold cup draw. A £2400 payout. Very nice. It was obvious where the bent money was and thus where the world cup was going.


    Given the number of very strange refereeing decisions which so regularly benefit Manchester United, is the problem solely confined to Blatter and his mates?

    And at least with the World Cup it gets spread around the country not like the fucking Olympics where the rest of us have to fork out for yet another London ego trip.

  • Dimoto

    Strapworld beat me to it.

    It’s quite funny to see this typically British hypocrital, synthetic outrage – no other country seems very bothered.
    Is FIFA more corrupt than (say) the UN ?

    Meanwhile, the terminally corrupt Premier League goes it’s merry way gradually destroying the national game.

    As Peter from Maidstone MIGHT have said:

    “The Premier League is a loathsome and corrupt organisation filled with loathsome and corrupt people. To do nothing about such corruption is to allow it to fester and spread. If the Premier League is allowed to be corrupt then why not all organisations unless we have an economic interest”.

    Then we have a governing body, the FA, which makes the FSA look competant.

    And we have a Parliamentary Inquiry, where eager, know-nothing, Prem-groupie MPs ask irrelevent questions to a bunch of ‘usual suspect’ Premier League insiders, who do their usual snow job.

    And breathe …

  • Sir Graphus

    It matters more (19 comments) than the public’s endebtedness (18 comments) apparently (at time of writing)

  • Frank P


    “Is bribery not illegal?”

    Well, as the bunging usually goes on in countries where it is de rigueur, it is unlikely to result in felt collars (except on the Savile Row cashmere overcoats of the bosses). The sight of Alan Sugar whingeing about dodgy deals in the football world is just about as hilarious as you can get. Talk about sour grapes.

    If this little falling out of thieves results in the Soccer Nostra Godfather getting ‘retired’ so that he can enjoy his nest egg without further hassle (unlikely btw, after his defiance at the ‘press conference’ – he made the late John Gotti look positively self-effacing), then an underboss will step up and la famiglia football will proceed as though nothing had happened. Fuggeddabahdit!

    FIFA and the United Nations have a great deal in common: now run by the corrupt third world for the corrupt third world. They have evolved in similar ways. Bit like the British Parliament, but on a larger scale – or maybe not – given recent scandals.

  • Sir Graphus

    with you all the way, Edward.

  • Andrew Fletcher

    Get real, corruption at FIFA was well known by the FA for years (and since when has the FA been a model of transparency!!?)
    It was only after the FA failed miserably in the World Cup hosting debacle that they decided to question FIFA’s integrity
    There’s nothing to stop the FA leaving FIFA (after all they only re-joined in 1947)
    If they are so concerned about it they could set up a rival competition and try to attract the likes of USA, Australia etc
    Time for them to s**t or get off the pot

  • Michael

    I was saddened to see an article by Boris where he referred to ‘the beautiful game’ without using inverted commas. It was almost as though he believed it. Football is simply a property speculation and gambling business aimed at extracting money from the dimmest or most brainwashed members of society.

  • Davey L.S

    Old-timer has a good point, what is required is the major sponsors of global and national football to look at how their money is being spent and how it could begin to reflect on them, until then the likes of Blatter and co will continue in the same manner

  • strapworld

    Football is now the opium of the masses.

    BUT, WE have a football association which is as bad as fifa, football clubs run by dubious characters, in the main, and foreigners whose antecedents we do not really know anything about. Billions thrown into this game and yet the supporter is asked to pay more and more.

    Fifa will do nothing. Blatter will be reappointed President for four years giving promises which he will never fulfill and the whole stinking business will go on and on.

    The Government, supported by the opposition parties should call for a Royal Commission into the administration of football in the United Kingdom (remembering that each country has its own association) and make recommendations as to the future structure. It should also be told to make recommendations on the relationship with UEFA and FIFA, both as bad as each other in my humble opinion.

    IF the recommendation is to walk away from UEFA and FIFA it must be understood that foreign players will be barred from playing here and the money in the game now, plus the foreign owners and dubious owners/directors will walk away.

    In my mind the benefits of such a situation far outweigh the disadvantages and, at least our clubs will have home grown players in our teams.

    There is a real need for a root and branch examination.

  • Edward

    I just wish Russia or Qatar had bribed their way into getting the Olympics, then we wouldn’t be stuck with the £12bn bill.

  • Jo

    Blattered, definition, see:

  • David Ossitt

    It matters not one jot to me that we as a nation did not succeed in our efforts to bring the world cup to the UK.

    I could not care less, what was and still can be a beautiful game has become a sewer of corrupt practices and over paid players, that FIFA is a home for corrupt officials surprises no one.

    What does matter and what truly troubles me; is that the political editor James Forsyth of a leading supposedly right wing paper The Spectator can ask the question “Does the trouble at FIFA really matter?”

    That he should pose this question; whilst implying that in fact it does not matter, is a clear sign that we as a people have some how lost our way, of course it matters.

    We should immediately withdraw from FIFA, we should seek to claim back all and every expense of our fruitless bid (we got one vote for heavens sake), corruption must always be challenged when and wherever it is found.

    As a side issue should any of the countries who are found to have taken the corrupt cash on offer, be recipients of UK foreign aid that aid should be irrevocably and permanently withdrawn forthwith.

  • Chris lancashire

    I agree with Peter From Maidstone – this bloated, corrupt organisation needs major surgery and unless Blatter and his ilk are ousted the English F A should pull out.

    That said, I am thankful that the nasty, corrupt delegated ensured we didn’t get to host the World Cup. Like the Olympics it would be an expensive folly and, unlike the Olympics, home advantage would make no odds – teams of Rooney, Ferdinand et al wouldn’t make it past the quarter finals – wherever they’re played.

  • se1man

    Yes, it matters.

    Football is a multi-billion pound global industry, and if the administration of the game is allowed to be corrupted in this way then it just perpetuates the idea that corruption is somehow OK or expected, the idea that position & power in any enterprise is just a ticket into an extortion racket.

    And that creeps across into other sports, into business, industry, tourism, law enforcement, the judiciary, etc…

    If we think it doesn’t matter just because it’s only a game then we’re a part of the problem.

    Besides, to the average punter in the street the administration of world football probably matters more than, say, MPs expenses.

  • Sir Everard Digby

    Think of FIFA as a quango;any democracy is through the votes of other quangos(national associations)For the World Cup venue award,only a small number of associations vote. It’s a bit like the EU -spends lots of money for not a lot in return. Football can manage without FIFA but the reverse is not true.

  • AGS

    Rock bottom thinking. Corruption as normal, and acceptable. Mr. Forsyth really has lost his way.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    FIFA is a loathsome and corrupt organisation filled with loathsome and corrupt people. To do nothing about such corruption is to allow it to fester and spread. If FIFA is allowed to be corrupt then why not all organisations unless we have an economic interest.

    Such a view is amoral.

    We should withdraw from FIFA until it is reformed. It is better not to participate under such a regime. Organise a separate competition for proper footballing nations. Why does Trindad and Tobago have the same voting rights as England or France?

    Burst the pus-oozing boil.

  • oldtimer

    Winning the right to stage the World Cup was important enough to persuade Mr Cameron, Prince William (as he then was), uncle Tom Cobbley and all to go to Zurich to lobby, and be stuffed by, those paragons of virtue that are the FIFA Executive Committee.

    The real power is probably held by the main FIFA sponsors, Coca Cola and Addidas. They are said to be unhappy to see their reputations damaged by association. That said the UK is better off running things that are more or less under its own – sorry, Murdoch`s – control like the Premier league.

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    How much money does Mr Blatter have? How did he come by it?

  • JohnOfEnfield

    In spite of our cheeseparing, the cost of the 2012 Olympic Games will be approximately one billion pounds per day. At a time of economic crisis!

    Only Blair, Brown and Livingston could have considered this a sensible “investment”. They topped (the Dome) and tailed (the Olympics) their time in power with expenditure worthy of the corrupt Roman Emperors of yester-year.

    Socialism at its best.

    In the light of subsequent events, losing the World Cup was a major bonus for the British taxpayer – at least we don’t have to keep company with these slime-balls.

  • Man_on_Richmond_Bridge

    “the premiership still wipes the floor with the other national leagues”
    Em….you must have overlooked a game on Saturday > Barcelona 3 – 1 Manchester United. Last time an English teams won the CL was 2008 Man U, 2005 Liverpool and 1999 Man U – not much dominance for all the cash poured in the Premiership since 1992.

  • Robert Eve

    It’s football – crummy game – crummy world body.

  • John Montague

    British bribery, just not up to it these days, always the bridesmaid, never the bride, overpaid superstars couldn’t bribe their way out of a paper bag, why oh why do we always overstimate them, isn’t it time British bribery had a British manager, still we’ve got a brilliant new generation of pot-sweetners coming through, they’ll see us right, just see if they don’t.

  • Fergus Pickering

    What on earth has economic sense got to do with it? By and large the Englsh people who wanted the world cup did not want it for economic reasons. They wanted it because the are football fans. I hate football. I’m glad a great wodge of it is happening somewhere else.

  • Stella

    Depends where you do it…

  • jackal

    I’m not sure many events like this can be justified economically, if that is your argument? However it certainly seems more sustainable in England where the infratructure – stadiums etc – are already in place and can be effectively used afterwards, the premiership still wipes the floor with the other national leagues. I’d argue at a time when there isn’t much real dosh about it makes the most economic sense to have it England, I also think we will never know how Blatter et al came to their conclusion, but we failed.

  • Doug

    is bribery not illegal?