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05-10-2013, 11:48 AM

The greatest trick Fifa ever pulled was to issue a Weather Warning.

The indispensable English footballer whose metatarsal will snap four weeks before the 2022 World Cup is currently 12 years old, but Fifa is already worrying stagily about the temperature in which he will perform disappointingly. As for the 12-year-old Nepalese boy whose family are unwittingly saving for the chance to send him off in a few years to die laying the foundations of a stadio-mall, or the 12-year-old Qatari boy wondering not when his people voted for this, but whether they'll ever vote for anything at all … well, it would be much easier if people did not concern themselves with them.

The greatest trick Fifa ever pulled – or at the very least, one of their top 10 – is acting as though the big question mark over the Qatar World Cup is the weather. By hook and by crooks, a brilliant piece of misdirection has seen almost the entire discussion centred on a roastingly heated debate about the tournament shifting seasons.

I'm not totally across the rules of apocalypse bingo. But I'm pretty sure that the second that people care more about how a winter World Cup will affect the Champions League schedule than the fact it's being built by slaves in a non-democracy, we all move closer to a full house.

A Guardian investigation has uncovered abuse of migrant workers in Qatar, with huge numbers dying, and working practices in various infrastructure projects amounting to modern-day slavery. Like Captain Renault in the Casablanca gambling den, Fifa professes itself shocked – shocked! – to find this going on in Qatar; and you, wide-eyed readers, will very likely have spent much of the week on the smelling salts yourself. In fact, I can't decide whether I am more shocked by the discovery that workers are appallingly exploited in these building binges in the emirates, or the discovery that summer in Qatar is quite warm.

Yet even I can't synthesise surprise at leaks from this week's Fifa meeting in Zurich, which indicate they will stick with Qatar for 2022, and not reopen the dubious vote to allow wishy-washy non-authoritarian states another chance. Apologies for the repetition, but Fifa is much less of an international sporting administrator than it is a supranational privateer. It is a parasite body, which descends on the appropriately named "host" nation every four years, siphons billions of tax-free profit out of it at the same time as overriding its laws and constitution to suit its needs, before buggering off in search of new blood. What on earth does anyone imagine it wants with democracies?

But please don't take it from me – Fifa itself is increasingly clear on the matter. "I will say something crazy," declared its chillingly sane secretary general, Jιrτme Valcke, back in April, "but less democracy is sometimes better for organising a World Cup." A statement that should for ever lay to rest Fifa's nonsense about the tournament's power to change the world for good.

Far from being the catalyst for progress its corporate folklore always holds it to be, the World Cup is in the gift of those irked by so-called advances for the little people – democracy, say, or the right to protest – and who believe it much better staged where those required to pay for it are voiceless.

Or, as Valcke added: "When you have a very strong head of state who can decide, as maybe Putin can do in 2018, that is easier for us organisers than a country such as Germany … where you have to negotiate at different levels."

How trying it must be. Happily, South Africa – Fifa's most recent ATM – rolled over very easily in 2010, with the scale of their obedience so total that Blatter was sufficiently emboldened to put the recently bereaved Nelson Mandela under "extreme pressure" to show himself at the final. As I say, I don't play apocalypse bingo. But if you had your dabber in your hand, the moment Sepp Blatter successfully pulled rank on the unofficial elder of the entire global village was probably one to cross off.

As for the demonstrations in Brazil ahead of next year's tournament, Blatter seems nostalgic for simpler South American times.

"I was happy Argentina won," he declared of the victorious hosts of the 1978 World Cup, held under military government. "This was a kind of reconciliation with the public, of the people of Argentina, with the system, the political system, the military system at the time." Mmm. Perhaps when Herr Blatter finally retires, having held power longer than most dictators, he could write a musical entitled Oh, What A Lovely Dirty War!

What a historian he is, and we can only imagine the spin he will put on the deaths of those labourers in Qatar in 10 years' time. They were not slaves – they were freedom fighters in the unimpeachable cause of football's mission to build a better tomorrow. Or a better food court, or something.

The one thing we'll never hear, of course, is a decent argument for why on earth non-democracies are even eligible to bid for Fifa's bauble – yet no attempt to get us to chat about the weather should stop this fundamental question being asked of Fifa at every turn. After all, if hosting an Olympics or a World Cup were even remotely likely to advance the cause of human freedom in their countries, does anyone think the likes of China and Qatar would be as keen to host them as they are?

09-06-2014, 10:52 PM

Last week tonight on FIFA.


10-06-2014, 07:30 AM
I watched this last night on Fox too.


10-06-2014, 07:37 AM
Sony have called for an inquiry into the 2022 bid, and Adidas made a rather damning statement too.

The sponsors really are the only ones who are going to have any impact on the way FIFA do things....... But there'll always be new companies ready to take their place if they ever walk.

10-06-2014, 08:08 AM
stop being a racist Gaz.*


* if you don't read the link, I'm not actually calling Gaz a racist.

10-06-2014, 08:45 AM
Bhah, the FIFAS only problem is pretending it's a legit process.
Money buys everything, FIFA should just say "highest bidder gets the cup" and away we go. That way any 'bribe' money can go back to the running of the game instead of the Excos pockets.
Every other major sporting event is 'brought', not sure why FIFA pretends otherwise, cause it's not really doing anything wrong is it?

Simple really.

10-06-2014, 08:47 AM
and geez Louise as for the working conditions. Well these same reporters had better not have accepted any junkets in Dubai, or climbed the Great Wall of China, or taken happy snaps at the Pyramids.
From memory the OH&S practices on those joints were quite horrid.

10-06-2014, 09:41 AM

10-06-2014, 09:46 AM
:wacko:Asif our bid is clean either.

What did the 46 million go on??

Couldn't have all been on the CGI kangaroo or Elle

Reality is Qatar beat everyone fair and square nd played the game that was required to win.

Our bid was shit anyway. Where were the football specific stadiums etc.

We expected to get it with a coat of paint and building a couple of stands that would in the long run benefit rugby codes.
Add in the stadiums in AFL land were gonna benefit them.

I am glad we never got it. With a shit plan for football in this country we NEVER DESERVED IT ANYWAY

10-06-2014, 11:44 AM
Tending to agree with the Member here*.
We were going through the whole refugee/boat people crisis at the time (hundreds feared dead making the trip) then doing a bit of a half assed job once(if) they got here.
Our human rights failings were there for all the world to see too I guess.
So it boiled down to America (hosted in '94) or the new frontier of the Middle East. After the 'success' of Japan/Korea in '02 and Sth Africa '10 it was prob the next logical place.

*although not quite as shouty.