December 3, 2010

Sepp Blatter is a tool and FIFA sucks

My beef is not with Russia nor Qatar. Good for them that they had the funds to convince "It's good to be King" President Sepp Blatter and his Cardinal Richelieu gang of 24 FIFA execs (currently minus 2 as they were banned from voting due to corruption allegations) to award the Russian and Qatari delegation respectively the biggest sporting event in the World: The FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) Soccer World Cup.  In case you didn't know, FIFA is responsible for the organization and governance of football's major international tournaments, most notably the World Cup.

The power of FIFA seems comparable to the kraken of "Pirates" fame: clutch, strangle, drag under.  FIFA officials seem solely concerned about their legacy and stocking up their wine cellars with Clos Du Mesnil 1995 Champagne and gold bouillons.

What legacy, you may ask?  The legacy of spreading good cheer throughout the world of sports:  the World Cup shall go where no official FIFA logo has gone before. 

South Africa was one of these countries. The 2010 World Cup in South Africa was the first ever held on the continent.  It went brilliantly well and is hopefully in the long term beneficial for the country and the entire continent. Awesome. Seriously. So, what is the difference to giving the World Cup to South Africa and Qatar?

Well, Africa as a whole, is a football-mad continent. Everybody knows football, loves football, lives football. Tons of great players come from Africa, playing in the best football clubs in the world.

There is absolutely nothing adverse in spreading the popularity of football/soccer to the far reaches of the world. (I suppose the gang of 24 minus 2 Corruptilizers forgot Australia never had the World Cup. Oh, and it probably slipped their minds that the Aussies have a  good national football team; a team that has actually participated in several World Cup tournaments. Too much to remember?)

The "Blatter wants to conquer the world" endeavor should maybe, if wine flowed from fountains, possibly take a few crucial factors into consideration:
  1.  Is football popular in the potential host country? 
  2.  Is travel to that country viable i.e. reasonably priced?
  3.  How's the climate? 
  4.  Is the country fairly democratic i.e. is the possibility of you - the fan - being arrested for  drinking, or for hugging someone of the same sex or appearing in public on the streets as a woman low to none?
  5.  Infrastructure for getting to the game venues in under 24 hours a feasible undertaking?
  6. Are the main fan core being taken into consideration? Is there even a fan core in the country? 
Not all countries who have previously held the World Cup have been able to tick all the boxes.  You might argue that the US definitely had a no next to nr. 1. But 5 out of 6 is pretty decent.

In the case of Qatar:
1. Nope. They have never ever participated in any World Cup. I understand Qataris love their football as much as the other guy, but that doesn't really constitute proper fan culture, like, say, in England or Brazil or Argentina.
2. ok..yes. On Qatar Airlines. A 5-star airline that's sure to offer really cheap flights. (alright, alright, sure cheap flights will be made available in the Sheik's private jumbo gulf stream)
3. The climate: a triathlete died this past summer while participating in a swimming event off Doha because it was too friggin' hot.

Now, the Qatari delegation is planing on having climate-controlled stadiums. Ok. Sounds like a "Red Planet" solution. Playing under a glass dome. But what about when the teams train? What about the fans? And what about the times in between games? 50+ degrees Celsius is beyond brutal. And it will be a problem.

I guess if you are able to fly out shitloads of cash directly into multiple Swiss bank accounts, you can purchase your artificially inseminated in-vitro event,  your Football Disneyland.
4. No. Watching the celebratory reactions from Doha, not one single woman was in the crowd.  It's an Islamic country, ruled by Islamic law. That means women should be not seen and not heard in public. Now, me, as one of the female kind, do take offense. Apparently, in Qatar, only guys are allowed to publicly like football.
5. Yes. The country is so small you can bring your bike. Although you'd die of a heat stroke after peddling 400 yards. Sure hospital care is first class though.
6. There are only so many sheiks in Qatar. 

Don't get me started on Russia: not the Russian people, but the Russian government. Vladimir Putin is a tyrant and has journalists poisoned, shot and/or beaten to death. Having said that, I am sure the World Cup 2018 will be ok. The Russians know how to celebrate. They love football, have a decent team, sure to be whipped into shape by 2018 and Putin's tank-fulls of cash shall be shot into infrastructure with breath-taking worker-friendly fervor.

Back in the day, around 1670ish; Peter the Great had serfs transported to the marshlands of what was to become St. Petersburg by the thousands. Most of them died of typhoid, overwork and under- nourishment. No more serfs in the Russia of 2010, just poor slobs who need a job and don't ask for minimum wages.

Again, you can't blame these countries for trying. I am blaming FIFA for being so grossly corrupt, unscrupulous and not giving a flying fuck for fan culture. They tossed the fans overboard along with the delegations from England, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, the USA, Japan and South Korea.

These countries were led to believe they had a viable chance, spending millions to impress morons.  For fucks sake Blatter,  at least have the decency to communicate: "Don't bother. I am only interested in going down in history as the biggest tool Football has ever known." Damn. I forgot. Blatter has no decency.

FIFA: foot in fan-arse. FIFA: you so suck.

Even the Romans did it better over 2000 years ago.  They practiced democracy in sports. It was the fans who gave the gladiators their up or down vote.  The "tossing into lions' pits of the thumbs-down gladiators" obviously has no more relevancy, although we might make an exception for the FIFA officials.

The football fans should have a say in some of this.  Seriously. Fans should have a say about the choice of host country.  They are the ones who save their wages, save their holidays to travel to these places to cheer their teams on. The fans buy the over-priced tickets not the officials who auction off their free tickets anyway.

The Financial Times of Germany said this: 

"In either case, the risk FIFA is taking is that the core customers -- fans in Europe and South America -- will get sick of this carry-on and turn away from these kinds of tournaments. The stadiums will not be filled by sheiks and officials alone."

There are a whole bunch of fans everywhere. We've all been kicked in the teeth this past Thursday.

British investigative reporter Andrew Jennings' book Foul! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote-Rigging and Ticket Scandals (Harper Collins) is on my Christmas List. I shall kick and scream till someone hears. Not that I can make a difference. But a whole bunch of us can.

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