|Currency accepted by FIFA members?|
reputation has just hit a new low, with claims that Germany purchased Saudia
Arabia’s support of their bid to host the 2006 World Cup with a gift of rocket-propelled
grenades. Football is a multi-billion dollar business at the heart of
advanced transnational capitalism, with umbilical ties to private wealth
accumulation, nationalist and macropolitical interests. Why wouldn’t it
be entangled with the arms industry as well as OFCs, tax evasion on an
eye-watering scale, betting scandals, drugs, dodgy construction contracts, money
laundering, and the criminal underworld?
|Thierry Henry getting Ireland eliminated from 2010 World Cup|
|Thierry Henry's Sister|
It is delusional to argue that enhanced morals, transparency and regulation can solve the problem. Without replacing transnational monopoly capitalism with
another economic system, the only sensible policy for a Cynic philosopher is to embrace the extra theatricality which power-politics, felony and
litigation bring to this planetary entertainment. In 1978 Argentina donated 35,000
tons of grain to Peru in return for a 6-0 victory (they needed to win by 4 goals to reach the final, which they then won). If I had known about the transaction,
I would have enjoyed watching the play-acting and found Peru’s humiliation far less painful.
|Francesco CoCo 'playing' South Korea|
2002 World Cup, held in South Korea, was vastly enhanced by the hosts’ bizarre
victories over European titans (Spain, Portugal and Italy) on their improbable
journey to the semi-finals. The ‘refereeing’ of their elimination match
with Italy was one of the most amusing things I have ever witnessed, and the
bloodletting truly gladiatorial.
only complaint about the Football Association of Ireland’s admission that it
accepted €5m hush money when it threatened legal action over the Thierry Henry
handball which stopped Ireland qualifying for the 2010 World Cup is this: things
were hushed up instead of playing out
publicly for our delectation in a public court.
The first great British football scandal, in 1905, involved a £10 bribe, Manchester City's Bobby Meredith and Aston Villa. But it increased public enthusiasm for both Meredith and football. Bribery was a feature of ancient sport as well, and surely added to the public's entertainment. My esteemed King's College colleague Professor Dominic Rathbone is the editor of an ancient Greek contract from Egypt, dated 267 AD, in which one teenaged wrestler agrees to lose a match against another in return
for 3,800 drachmas. This may sound a lot, but I don’t think Sepp Blatter would
have been impressed. Forget the Mercedes-Benz:
this was the price of a single donkey.
|A Delight of my Childhood|
fixing of that ancient match may well have added
to its spectators’ enjoyment. As a child I was transfixed by televised bouts
between Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks, when the whole point was figuring out in which round each had agreed to
concede to the other and with what absurd manoeuvre. The only things that
differentiate those matches from the Gesamtkunstwerk
of modern football is the amount of lucre involved and football’s extra
attraction of pointless moral posturing from the likes of Greg Dyke, David Cameron
etc. Now for an hour of cynical laughter immersed in the sports supplements…
It's perhaps worth adding that 19th C. English schoolboys really were expected to believe and express the sporting ideology, and as it is from this milieu that footballs were first kicked, so deviation from it IS significant, however historically precedented;ReplyDelete
in professional cycling cash payments for services rendered in the peleton have always been a part of the sport, but this does not detract from anyone's enjoyment; as you suggest, it merely adds another layer for the sophisticated spectator to analyse and enjoy.