Whilst I could not claim that it is a particular interest of mine, I find I have no shortage of opinions upon football matters.
[That fact is one of life’s little oddities, isn’t it? As a general rule, the more you know about a subject, the harder it is to reach an absolute truth upon it.]
The World Cup is fast approaching. You can tell this from the special 32-page supplements bring added to our Sunday newspapers, the television trailers and advertisements mentioning it and the increasingly-blanket coverage of the England squad’s daily progress towards Brazil – not least the overnight news that their first training session in Miami was a complete washout due to torrential rain.
Yesterday, when I popped across the road to my local newspaper shop, the subject came up in my brief chat with the proprietor.
I made so bold as to presume, as he is a big football – and long-suffering Manchester United – fan, that he was preparing for a Word Cup-saturated summer.
He answered in the negative. His biggest immediate concern was his wife’s reaction, when she returns from India next weekend, to his ‘secret’ acquisition of a brand-new high-definition television (to go with his new, automatically-upgraded, Sky HD box).
In short, there isn’t any. He assured me that, contrary to previous World Cups, on which fans have embarked confidently anticipating nothing less than ultimate glory, this time nobody is expecting anything of the national team.
There may have been an element of reverse psychology in his statement [viz. ‘we’ve got no hope and therefore we’ve got nothing to lose’], but I don’t think so. He referred to the relative youthfulness of Roy Hodgson’s squad and his suspicion that the powers-that-be had effectively written off 2014 in the hope that a serious bid could be mounted in Russia in four years’ time.
On a related subject, at the weekend I read the excellent expose by The Sunday Times’ investigative team of the allegedly-corrupt machinations surrounding Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup and I have been following developments since then.
In the snowstorm of punditry and comment flying about in the media in the wake of the worldwide reaction to the revelations within footballing authorities – and FIFA’s announcement that its current review of corruption allegations by its lawyer Michael Garcia will now be published after the World Cup is over – I have noted a rather depressing theme.
I may be over-egging things here, but I seem to have detected a regretful but clear resignation in the tone of the pronouncements about ‘what must be done’ and indeed what FIFA can be expected to do in the circumstances.
There appears to be an acceptance by all that FIFA is not going to step up to the mark and regain – that is, if it had ever attained – the moral high ground. Moreover, to be blunt, the bottom line appears to be that, although FIFA is a hotbed of vested interests and corruption, nothing can be done about it and life must go on.
To me, this proposition is distasteful.
The British public has given up expecting anything of its politicians because, over the past fifteen years, it has lost any respect it ever had for them.
Now it looks as though the world has lost its respect for football’s ultimate governing body but may be about to wash its hands and accept the unacceptable.
Someone needs to pull their finger out and do something.
To adapt Lord Acton’s famous dictum – ‘money corrupts, but megabucks corrupt absolutely’. Ask the International Olympic Committee …