Thursday, 2 December 2010
Bah humbug! No World Cup for England. Back to the protests then.
What disaster! What a huge injustice and monumental failure of the system to send the 2018 World Cup to the home of football. What a blow to the English (British) economy.
As the tabloids (and not only) are screaming at the perceived injustice, I must tell you that I for one thing am happy England didn't 'win' the right to organise the 2018 World Cup. There are a number of parameters here, and a number of reasons.
Firstly, there is nothing here on the level of states. FIFA are a corporation, milking the World Cup to the extreme. An extremely corrupt club for that too. The way royalty, politicians and others got involved in the England bid you'd think this had something to do with the public. It doesn't. World Cup football (and Premier League football while you're at it) are privately run entertainment events with the sole purpose of generating their owners and their partners maximum revenue. There is no morality here to be broken. Private business is profit-driven, end of story. I for one thing would not be happy to pay for the infrastructure, policing and security which would facilitate FIFA, Coca-Cola, Adidas and the rest of them to reap maximum profits.
Which brings me to my second point. All the arguments we hear about all the revenue that would come in, the tourism, the jobs, have no real foundation whatsoever. There has been no estimate (published at least) of the projected costs of hosting the World Cup. According to Panorama last Monday, the Dutch have in fact undertaken a study and it turns out that when FIFA and their partners have taken their profits, the nation would be £100 million worse off. On top of everything, the Dutch weren't favourites as they were unwilling to change their legislation to satisfy FIFA's demands or allow FIFA tax exemption during its activity in the Netherlands. Benefit? Bollocks. That's just sheer populism.
Thirdly, the cries against corruption on the part of the British media are only coming out after the English bid failed. In fact, I suspect that some of those bent officials who were exposed in Panorama would even be voting for England. Make no mistake: the English bid and its proponents were fully aware-nobody was robbed of anything here. The English have simply been bested at this game by others. The World Cup will be well placed in Russia.
The above phenomena exist whenever there is a huge sporting event with global appeal, it's nothing new. How did an impoverished country with sky-high crime rates get to organise the World Cup last summer? What happened to the infrastructure now it's all over? And have the townships, crime and poverty been eradicated as a result of the World Cup's all-healing impact? We don't know, as the patronising, flatulent journalists who were there during the event are not interested any more. And don't you think that given Joao Havelange's grip on FIFA for decades and his association with cases of bribery, it is hardly surprising that Brazil also got to organise the World Cup in 2014? Will the World Cup eradicate the favelas of Rio? Allow me to be deeply sceptical, although I'm sure it was also part of their bid: the social project, the benefit, the impact.
If you think these big events give economies a boost, think again. The only ones who get a boost are politicians who get to milk the glamour and the fireworks and the multinationals who really run the show. It is disgraceful for the prime minister of a nation hit hard by budget cuts to be throwing his weight behind what is simply a nice celebration of back-scratching and keeping money in the family. The inappropriate excitement about the World Cup bid, just like the pompous announcement of Will's and Kate's engagement, only serve to temporarily shift our attention from the more pressing issues. Unemployment, unfair distribution of taxes, further social exclusion in health and education, accommodation of an upper-class-run exclusive club of politicians, businessmen and their friends. Bread and circuses don't save the day. Just ask a now-bankrupt Greece. The Athens Olympics were only six years ago. And although the Olympics served to temporarily tranquillise them and make them forget the state of the economy, they soon woke up again. The British will too. Good luck to the Russians-they'll need it once Blatter and his partners are done chucking all the sacks of roubles into the truck...