Tuesday, November 16, 2010

No free press?

As the corruption scandal continues to unfold at FIFA, based on multiple reports, the UK increasingly feels that they are going to get left by the wayside for the 2018 and 2022 bids.

A compelling article from Guardian.co.uk here lists the extraordinary measures the UK team is going to to stay in the running.

What is amazing to me is how for the UK will go to get this bid. From the article:
The letter declares England 2018's "solidarity and support" for Fifa's response to newspaper allegations; highlights "representations" to the BBC over a forthcoming Panorama programme it fears could fatally undermine England's chance of winning the bid; and refers to the two executive committee members who have been provisionally suspended as "our friends".

There are two things that strike me there.

First, the willingness to cozy up to individuals that have been provisionally suspended by FIFA. Now, I am all for an "innocent until proven guilty" prospect, but I am also for letting the system do it's work. This move by the UK bid team seems a little too "kissy-face" with FIFA for my liking. In fact they are lying down with the very corruption that is being rooted out.

If the UK bid team believes in these individuals and their innocence, say it ... publicly. None of this note passing, back door, we really want to go to the prom with you not that other girl, rubbish.

Second, the press, specifically the BBC,  is playing a very interesting role in this, and quite a correct one I would opine. They are bringing some much needed sunlight to the whole situation regarding the bid process and have exposed it for how corrupt it truly is. That itself is something. But also is how the press is potentially killing the UK's bid ... even as the UK has not been implicated (yet) into any wrongdoing here. Yet their bid ... a virtual lock for 2018 ... is now being shunned. And by whom? By the FIFA EXCOMM of course.

Well, that's interesting.

Now I'll go out on a limb here.

I'll bet my flipping coin that if the BBC airs their documentary about FIFA corruption, the UK loses the bid. If they refrain, the UK will win it.

From the article:
Dein and the England 2018 chief executive, Andy Anson, recently met the BBC director general, Mark Thompson, and head of sport, Barbara Slater, over the Panorama documentary, which they fear could tip the balance conclusively.
For a little old fashioned arm twisting no doubt.

Truly amazing now how FIFA could potentially use the UK bid team as its puppet to twist the arm of the UK media to try stop the press on a documentary that no doubt will cast FIFA in a poor light, but in the long haul will do nothing but cast the much needed sunlight onto the process.


  1. The BIGGER problem with England's bid is that they invented the game, won the World Cup in 1966 -- and have done nothing since. They continue to disappoint at the top level and only 40% of players in the EPL are actually eligible to play for England.

    There is no "legacy" for a World Cup in England like there was (and would be again) for the USA, and Australia, and Qatar, and Russia. FIFA is very into "legacy" at the moment - orations about soccer bringing far corners of the world together are good for glossing over greasy politics.

    Russia will win 2018 and the USA 2022.

    Quote of the day (from NYT): "I get how you can air condition a stadium, but how do you air condition an entire country?" (in reference to Qatar bid chances.

    (Oh - and it's not a UK bid. There will be no FWC 2018 matches in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland)


  2. Excellent points anon. I also agree with your predictions on choices for 2018 and 2022. ENG is done with these reports swirling around.

    FIFA historically has made too much money here in the US to seriously think about Qatar for too long.