It’s not often that I agree with Simon Jenkins, but the news that Dave Cameron is going to FIFA to plead Britain’s case to host the 2018 World Cup has annoyed him almost as much as it annoys me.
Britain should have no truck with a body like Fifa, any more than it should with the International Olympic Committee or those who run much of international sport. Five minutes spent with the cuttings, or trawling such websites as playthegame and transparencyinsport, should have stopped Cameron being photographed shaking hands with Blatter at Downing Street. His staff should have read Andrew Jennings’ Foul! on Blatter, and thrown in Christopher Shaw’s Five Ring Circus, about the IOC, for good measure.
Incident after incident, case after case, has shown these self-governing supranational apparatus riddled with accusations of backhanders, bribes and fixed votes – often quite legal in the countries where they carefully base themselves, such as Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Their officials jet the world, pushing the one narcotic to which all modern governments are addicted – sporting glory.
For decades the IOC turned a blind eye to the communist bloc’s use of drugs to boost performance, or China’s (and Tony Blair’s) exploitation of the Olympics for political ends. It now demands inexcusable outlays of taxpayers’ money to stage its two-week festival of minority sports. When the IOC demands an exclusive “Zil lane” for its official cars up London’s Mile End Road, the British government meekly obeys. It would not offer this to a head of state.
Likewise Fifa turns a blind eye to longstanding charges of vote rigging. Its laughable ethics committee deplored last month’s revelations as “unethical” and “rumours”, though it was forced to suspend six of the alleged “vote fixers” named in the paper. Fifa’s Blatter has contrived to keep his job for 36 years, by means that would do credit to a Muammar Gaddafi. He professes “surprise” at talk of bribes while banning journalists like Jennings who ask questions about them from his press conferences…
Right on. Meanwhile I’m looking forward to a delightful three weeks in Provence while the London Olympics are on.