World Cup, 2014

Oliver_on_FifaReaders of this blog know that I am a football fan. The World Cup always provides an opportunity to plug the gap left by the closed domestic season; it also serves as an occasion to watch (and listen to descriptions on radio commentaries) the world’s best players do their magic. usually that does not include England, of course.

The World Cup in South Africa four years ago brought to the fore some of the less seemly elements of the competition. The concept belongs to FIFA, not to the host country. And like most intellectual property, the lion’s share of the value does not go to the manufacturer, but to the ‘owner’. Moreover, it is so prestigious that countries are willing to suffer penury in order to win the competition to host and then to build the often inappropriate (un)necessary infrastructure (e.g stadiums). Sovereignty is also compromised with changes in tax laws. Equally troubling are the FIFA courts with the ability rapidly to convict individuals for infringements related to the competition.

The defence of South Africa was its importance for a continent. The first time the competition had been held in Africa. I bought that. For Brazil…well, Brazil is football. For Russia (2018)? For Qatar (2022)? It is increasingly clear that this whole event is designed to look after the interests of a detached – and extremely wealthy – elite in Zurich rather than the sport of football globally.

As is often the case, critique is best left to satirists. John Oliver’s (picture above) is one of the best. It can be seen here .

My response this time is, as best I can, to ignore the competition. Even if that means forfeiting the final commentaries on the radio of the great Mike Ingham who is retiring from the BBC after the competition.

FIFA stinks and we should not patronise it.

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