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Sports editor Tom Hollingworth on power in world sport

In July this year, Football Association chairman Greg Dyke created a bit of a stir by announcing during an appearance before the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee that England would not bid to host a soccer World Cup tournament again as long as Sepp Blatter was at the helm of FIFA.

The old Yorkshire saying “Where there’s muck there’s brass” is certainly borne out in the world of global sport. Not to put too fine a point upon it, the International Olympic Committee and FIFA – the bodies responsible for organising and administering the two biggest sporting events of all (the Olympics and the soccer World Cup) – are chock-full of time-serving busy bodies who travel around the globe in circumstances of unimaginable luxury and stand as living examples of the historian Lord Acton’s famous dictum ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolutely power corrupts absolutely’.

Generally, as every politician seeking to play a part on the world stage knows, there are only two ways of dealing with dictatorships.

You can either adopt the West’s attitude to Middle Eastern oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia, i.e. hide your naked national self-interest behind the veil of ‘jaw-jaw is better than war-war’ and pretend to befriend them in the hope you can both preserve your defence industry jobs (by selling them expensive armaments) and secure yourself a half-decent supply of oil.

Or you plot to overthrow them.

The trouble, as the West has discovered with bells on with its invasions of Iraq (twice), Afghanistan and Libya, is that if you succeed in overthrowing them, with what on earth do you replace them? The default position of principle might ideally be a liberal Western-style democratic system, but the problem with this is the simple fact that – with small pockets of exception – the peoples and cultures of the Middle Eastern (broadly Islamic) nations are steeped in attitudes towards the purpose of life and how it should be lived that are completely at odds with the concept of democracy and its little camp followers such as tolerance, respect for others, equality and fairness.

Back to world sport and specifically soccer and FIFA/Sepp Blatter.

Right now Blatter is seeking an unprecedented fifth term as president of FIFA and simultaneously attempting to bury the report FIFA commissioned from New York district attorney Michael Garcia into the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Here’s a worthy article by Will Hutton (written for The Observer) which appears on the website of The Guardian today – FIFA SCANDALS



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About Tom Hollingworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a former deputy sports editor of the Daily Express. For many years he worked in a sports agency, representing mainly football players and motor racing drivers. Tom holds a private pilot’s licence and flying is his principal recreation. More Posts