It is too much to hope, I suppose, that FIFA’s present difficulties will put an end once and for all to the horrible four-yearly fortnight of football to the exclusion of everything else. What I particularly dislike about it is to see those silly little English flags flying from cars as they drive past. Luckily, the patriotic phase of the World Cup finals seldom lasts long, thanks to the entirely predictable incompetence and lack of ability of the English team.
So horrible is English football ‘culture,’ as an anthropologist might call it, that I feel it my patriotic duty to cheer for the other side whichever it might be: but my support is seldom necessary, the other side can usually be counted on to win even without my encouragement.
I do not follow the affairs of FIFA very closely, but I seem vaguely to recall that this is not the first time it has been suspected of corruption, and I rather doubt, if it survives in its present form, that it will be the last such time. Of Mr Blatter I know nothing, but I warm to a man who in these circumstances can say ‘I am not perfect, but nobody is perfect.’
Why anyone aged 79, though, still wants to be the head of an organisation is beyond my comprehension. But then I never wanted to be the head of anything at any age. Mr Blatter says that the accusations, coming as they did just before his re-election, were an Anglo-Saxon plot to avenge the choice of venues for the next World Cups over which he presided: and I rather suspect that he might be right. He certainly deserves well of this country – an honorary knighthood, for example – for having passed over England’s candidature to host one of those cups.
It’s bad enough when they take place abroad; think of the national humiliation if matches had to be held in Stoke or Middlesbrough, so that foreigners would be able, indeed forced, to see what England is really like.
One of the FIFA bigwigs accused of corruption is a Brazilian called José Hawilla, a journalist turned sportswear and sporting TV magnate. Apparently he has sung like a canary and promised to pay a fine of $151 million in return for not going to prison. I am not sure I altogether approve of this way of conducting and concluding criminal investigations. It smacks… well, of corruption, actually.