FIFA and a Few Money


Like any other mega events of the world, the FIFA World Cup has also its murky side. French football legend and the president of Union of European Football Associations, Michel Platini fumes over a British newspaper’s report, he charged the newspaper of tarnishing his reputation by drawing him into corruption standers. The legend was in news regarding the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid. Platini claimed that he was no longer astonished by the spreading of unfounded rumours at an important moment for the future of football. The Daily Telegraph had alleged the football legend had held “a secret meeting” with Mohammed bin Hammam, the man who is also in controversy, accused of bribing to secure support for Qatar 2022 World Cup campaign. The controversial selection of Qatar to host the 2022 had resulted in bitter row. There was even a proposal that the tournament should be moved to winter to avoid the scorching summer heat of Qatar. FIFA president Joseph Blatter who voted for the United States to host the 2022 World Cup had explained that there was “definitely direct political influence” on European executive committee members to vote for Qatar. Blatter had told the German weekly Die Zeit that European leaders recommended to its voting members to opt for Qatar, because of major economic interest. FIFA therefore was under criticism for awarding Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup. But Blatter defended FIFA’s move saying that the criticism was born out of ‘European delusion and ethnocentrism’. Blatter speaking to a football website had said that it is high time that Europe started to understand that they do not rule the world anymore, and that some former European imperial powers can no longer impose their will on others. Here, it is important to note that politics and economics play an important role in awarding mega events to a particular country. It has been a concerted effort of the FIFA to take its events to new areas of the world such as South Korea, Japan, South Africa, Brazil and Qatar. They have expanded the borders of soccer. But FIFA and foreign investors have had benefits from it. An explainable logic is that new countries offer new areas for foreign investment. There are always demands for construction of new stadiums. Foreign investors have earned huge profits by investing into Brazilian construction firms, for instance. Most of the designs and constructions of stadiums in Qatar is being done by international firms based in the US. The last world cup which was held in South Africa was also not free from debate on politics and economics related to the event. As argued by critics, the majority of tournament favourites are nations with developed economies and histories as colonial powers. Alongside, multinational corporations have their brand names all over the World Cup products, to the extent that Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg was renamed Coca-Cola Park. The Creative Workers’ Union of South Africa called for a boycott of the Kick-off concert on the grounds that the featured international artists were signed in by corporates, rather than local artists. Finally FIFA did increase the number of local artists shortly before the concert. Guardian columnists like Chris Rodriguez have dubbed the tournament a “vanity project” and “testament to there being no concern for the national welfare among its decision makers”. Back home in India, with the Cup getting closer for the kick-off, the corporate houses are switching gear to connect with TV audience who are not hooked to cricket. Brands such as Hero MotoCorp, Lava Mobiles, Microsoft, Nokia and Adidas are leading the race to woo soccer fans reports The Hindustan Times. Sony Six, the new official broadcaster of FIFA is selling slots for Rs 2.5 lakh per 10 seconds, the same ESPN TV channel charged during the last World Cup despite just 900 seconds available, against 2,400 seconds during T20 cricket matches. Nevertheless, sports fans have to find a middle ground between the extremes of economics & politics and the sporting spirit of the game called football, without pretending that social injustice associated with the game is no longer a problem. With just six days to go, we are keeping our finger crossed lest the electricity ditches us.



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