Tag Archives: World Cup

The play of the Sponsor

I have had my issues with sport and the enormous setting of corruption on several settings; we merely have to look at FIFA to see just how bad it can get in any setting. In equal measure I have had several issues against Iran; the corruption does not even come up to high as we see the interactions with Hezbollah and the shipping of missiles to Yemen.

Yet, when I see the news in the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2018/06/09/nike-will-not-outfit-iranian-world-cup-team-due-to-sanctions), it is my personal belief that certain political parties have gone overboard. When I see ‘Nike will not outfit Iranian World Cup team due to sanctions’, it’s gone too far. We have always accepted that sports needs to remain outside of all political scopes. If the spirit of the Olympics was: ‘During the celebration of the games, an Olympic Truce was enacted so that athletes could travel from their cities to the games in safety‘, so that one moment was a time when there was no war, no discord and those players had the freedom to travel uninterrupted. To suddenly get them in a setting without an outfit has all other kinds of interactive issues and touching on that is the beginning of the end. I personally consider it a really bad call on nearly every level to set the stage that the providers of such an event would be prohibited from supplying one of the teams. Politicians have the options to shout out to exclude sports and official events of inhibiting any international support. I personally never gave a hoot about football, but the option to open any level of dialogue at a sporting event could be the beginning of options that are usually not a given. I have always believed in keeping channels of communications open, even if it would be a mere ‘Oops! I apologise for sinking your fleet!‘, or perhaps something less drastic, yet the option to have it is still important and the Washington Post  gives us that Nike, by its own actions or not has closed that door. It becomes a little less nice when we see: “Some teams allow players to select their own cleats, including which brand, for competition. Some players, for example, may have sponsorship with Nike. Those deals, according to CNBC, will not be affected. Other teams are sponsored by a particular brand — the main players in the international soccer scene are Nike, Adidas and Puma — and require players to wear a certain shoe“, so when I see ‘sponsorship with Nike. Those deals, according to CNBC, will not be affected‘, so if people are paid for, they can still be supplied? It feels like an uneven game and makes football and other games merely settings for exploitation, how does that help in keeping any level of corruption out of sport? OK, that is a different topic, but the setting that we see with “We call on the U.S. Government to take immediate steps to address this shameful situation and that Nike actively seeks a resolution. FIFA should also take necessary steps to address this issue and ensure that none of the teams in the World Cup are subject to double standards“. In this I actually side with Jamal Abdi, the vice president for policy of the National Iranian American Council. It is important for politicians to take the politics and these economic settings away from the sporting events like the Olympics, world cups and official international games. If equality is the only way to finding common ground, and should Nike to shy away, I hope that the Germans with Puma and Adidas to pick up the baton, so that sport events like the world cup will keep on having a level playing field, so that it remains about the game and not about the sponsored players and the politics.

 

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The price of soccer

This is how I see the issues as we see the mountain of ‘complaints’ in regards to Qatar 2022. The first part is seen on the BBC site (a http://www.bbc.com/news/world-31605149). Richard Scudamore is very disappointed, which is fair enough. My issue is with his statement: ‘if the integrity of a football league has to stop for 6-7 weeks‘. Is that truly the case? The integrity of a league does not diminish when they are out playing their best for their nation in a world cup. It shows that these people, with multi million pound incomes can set it all aside to play their best for their nation. That is the simple truth of it all. So is this about FIFA, UEFA? Or is it because of advertisers? You see, those 6-7 weeks advertisers will move to the world cup, they go to where THEIR visibility lies. I think that this is a side that the football managers forgot about. When they spread the visibility of Soccer, getting more and more nations, they forgot that new members are every bit as eager to promote their national side and we can safely say that the middle east has plenty of money to invest in new stadiums.

Part of me is just a little amazed that both FIFA and its members did not see this coming. It is a sports event! In a places where for all kinds of environmental reasons, the Olympics cannot be held there, is it such a surprise that they want to show off their nation by hosting the soccer World Cup event? That what followed is still to be regarded as an episode of comedy capers, for those too young to remember, see the intro here (at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjZMfRwsuOM), see the man at the back, that could be Martin Ivens, you remember the Sunday Times claiming to have seen all those ‘millions of documents‘ reported by Reuters on July 28th 2014? I mention parts of what was claimed in ‘Sacking the Editor?’ on November 14th 2014 (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/11/14/sacking-the-editor/), it could be regarded as evidence on just how much a paper tiger Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is. As mentioned before, if we go by the words of IPSO “We uphold the highest standards of journalism by monitoring and maintaining the standards set out in the Editors’ Code of Practice” than they should also be pre-emptive. Especially when allegations of corruption are being made.

Was there corruption? That question remains a valid one, but when we see “FIFA report into alleged corruption clears Qatar to host 2022 World Cup” (at http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/nov/13/fifa-report-alleged-corruption-qatar-2022-world-cup), the mention by the Sunday Times give way to bring a forced publication of that evidence, or be hit for damages. None of that seems to have happened. In addition, we see this in The Star (at http://www.thestar.com/sports/soccer/2015/02/24/fifa-deserves-red-card-for-the-debacle-that-is-qatar-world-cup-arthur.html) “FIFA judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, who sits on FIFA’s ethics committee, reviewed the report and released a 42-page summary to the public that stated the report cleared FIFA in the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively“.

I am not denying the facts that are, but no one seems to show evidence, which is crucial. You see, as stated before, I think this is for the larger part about something else. If we go back to the statement ‘if the integrity of a football league has to stop for 6 – 7 weeks’, is that so? How about taking a 7 week break and prolonging the season that one time? I think that these soccer players, who are making tens of thousands a week, can work an extra 8 weeks that one time. If it is about the advertisers, than it is just bad luck. You see, many people have had enough of ‘enabling’ advertisers to the max, and if this costs them a little extra this once, than live with it. It is NOT about the advertisers, it is about the sport and everyone is very adamant not to mention that ‘A’ word, or ‘sponsors’ for that matter. Is it all an inconvenience? Yes, I reckon that is the case and this is also the consequence of broadening the membership list of soccer playing nations, there is a consequence at some point. So, yes, I do agree that Qatar was never the best place, but guess what, they did the dance, they went through the motions and they got the gig! Now all others will have to program around this for once, I think that the fact, that this had been running since 1888, implies that the sport could use a little exception and a little flexibility.

This does not take away the issues that play at FIFA, there are a few issues with the Russian part, especially the ‘the Russians claimed that all e-mails relating to their bid had been wiped from the computers they used, which were rented’, I mentioned that in a previous blog too, because such levels of incompetence should not be allowed anywhere. Yet, the full report of Garcia was never given to the public at large, which gives us a few extra issues, but then, the Sunday Times under Martin Ivens blowed a lot of hot air, but then did not release any evidence of in any shape, size or form. It seems to me that this is not a good thing either.

If we accept the star with their quote “But FIFA is so powerful, so unaccountable, that the inartfulness of the lies doesn’t matter” as well as “FIFA pushes slush piles of money to federations all over the world in the form of development grants, and that secures the necessary votes to keep Blatter in power“, that we have a massive problem. You see, I have been (to some extent) on the side of Qatar, because there were allegations from many, but NO ONE presented actual evidence and all these events played like this was all about big business not getting their way. I have an issue with that! In my view, if you love soccer and it is your life, that that is fine, but when we see these pushes whilst an average soccer player gets per week what most people get per quarter, that we can agree that those people get to suck it up a little and not whinge or whine like little bitches when they suddenly get an ‘adjusted’ calendar once per 4 years, the fact that this now happens for the first time ever, they can just shut up and take it, so this once they get to experience what most workers endure on a yearly basis.

On the other side, if there is a level of unaccountability from FIFA, that it makes equal sense for ALL members of FIFA to break with FIFA and create something new, to which ALL members of FIFA are to be excluded for a few decades. See how that solves issues. The reality is that Qatar 2022 might be the only deviant event (compared to all other world cups) as a lesson for future FIFA events, in that case FIFA will have learned a lesson, but perhaps we learn another lesson too. Perhaps that environment will only fuel a global desire for soccer and in that light, premiere leagues of all nations will have to consider that once every four years there could be a different light in how that year the league is played. It might be refreshing in so many ways that it will, for some, rekindle the true love for soccer. Let’s not forget in those 6-7 weeks those players do not represent their team, they represent their nation, is that not a great thing? It should be!

In that light we should also see the response BBC sport had “The former Manchester United and Everton defender added that he would be “licking my lips” if he was England boss Roy Hodgson because “we’ll have the freshest ever national team going to a World Cup”” (at http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/31610300), you see, it is not all bad, I reckon that soon we will see similar responses from coaches and players in The Netherlands, Germany and Sweden.

Now consider the following quotes from the links used earlier: “The 2026 World Cup television rights in North America were awarded without a bid to Fox and Telemundo, who had complained about the Qatar schedule change, for which they hold the broadcast rights“, “Six European federations demanded Fifa clean up its act. Three top commercial backers, Coca-Cola, Adidas and McDonald’s, did so too” and “Of the 11 men who voted on 2018 and 2022 World Cups who are no longer on Fifa’s executive committee, only five provided answers to Garcia’s inquiry. Two could not be located at all“, it is clear that there are issues, especially when considering the part, ‘two could not be located at all’, is this for real? What, did that person go on a $600K cruise and there is no phone where these people are at (just one of a few options)? There is no question that there are issues on several sides, but there is still the matter of evidence, evidence that is either concealed or never found. The fact that the report was never released is also cause for concern, I do admit to that, but in law when we apply ‘is it more likely than not‘ can be just as easily applied to the large sponsors who see their return on invested revenue lessen to a small extent, taking into consideration that 2022 will be the first time (possibly the last time) that this happens brings for the question ‘why enable big business to this extent?‘ is a matter that is not and likely will not ever be answered, which is why, I currently remain on the side of Qatar. Sport is about the sport, whether it is local or nations playing, it is about the sport, not about the visibility of the sponsors. They get visibility because of sport, not the other way around. It is time big business learns that no matter what game they play, the sport itself remains untouchable, which also means that sometimes the game needs to be slightly more flexible. That part is also shown in regards to Fox and Telemundo, who complained about schedule change. Really? Complain now about an event 6 years away? If it is such an inconvenience, than give the 2022 rights to one of the free TV channels. I wonder how that channel will suddenly benefit from sponsors. If anything, this event shows me how corporate greed has been maximised within sports, an upsetting issue.

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The old reasons

There are a lot of high running tensions in play at present. There is the Gaza, which has been going on since I was there in 1982 and there is the downing of MH17, which is now becoming an increasingly political hot potato involving the Russians.

Yesterday, Nick Clegg called for stripping Russia from the world cup 2018 (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jul/27/nick-clegg-russia-world-cup-2018-stripped-mh17-ukraine). I do not think I can presently agree with this. Yes, there are issues that need to be answered, yet, there is enough evidence to clearly state that Russian separatists, not the Russian army shot the plane down. The last group might not be innocent, yet for this we need actual evidence, which is currently (for now) not available.

David Cameron seems to be in agreement with me (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jul/27/david-cameron-russia-2018-world-cup-ukraine).

In my case there is another reason. If we are to resolve any issues, then we need to make sure that diplomats get as many options as they can to smooth things over. In three years the issues of MH17 will have been passed, yet what lies around the corner? There is not a person in the world who can give us any answer in that regard, nor should they have to. If we want options, than we need to look no further than the Olympics, especially the ‘original’ ones (you know, the ones you might have seen in 776 BC).

In those days, there was an important side to these groups of people, who were always bickering with each other using swords and spears. It was stated “During the Olympic Games, a truce, or ekecheiria was observed. Three runners, known as spondophoroi were sent from Elis to the participant cities at each set of games to announce the beginning of the truce. During this period, armies were forbidden from entering Olympia, wars were suspended, and legal disputes and the use of the death penalty were forbidden“.

It was a stroke of genius! This was a time when certain officials could off the books meet and possibly broker solutions in a way where the ego and reputation of a person was not on the line. It was a time when some people could meet and possibly longer lasting truces could be held. Even today, when the emotions run high, we need to make certain that such an option remains.

This brings me to the second part in this, which is only casually linked. It was my blog of March 19th 2014 called ‘Any sport implies corruption!‘ where I looked at some of the issues regarding the accusation of corruption by Qatar in getting the World cup 2022. There were a few views that caused me to question whether there was actual corruption, or was this a push by big business to replace Qatar for revenue reasons? What is ‘more likely than not’ is the question in this case!

Last week the Guardian gave us additional information (at http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/jul/21/ethics-investigation-private-fifa-michael-garcia), in the article, where it states: “Former attorney expected to deliver evidence by end of July“. It is now the end of July and we see the quote “Garcia’s report will go directly to FIFA’s ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckhart, who is not expected to make any rulings until August or September“, so there will; be another delay in finding out the truth.
Moreover, I feel at present that after that another delay will come as certain people could be offered high income positions in other places before the news comes out. Will that happen? I do not know, what I do know is that the allegations have gone on for way too long and the additional delays, whilst we see more and more press on this should anger us all beyond belief. Big Business made a try and as such they hopefully failed. Of course we will not know until the rulings are made, but I remain adamant in my view! I demand the disclosure of names and participants in these events. In addition, the quote “Shortly before the World Cup in Brazil, Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper reported that some of the ‘millions of documents’ it had seen linked payments by former FIFA executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam to officials to win backing for Qatar’s World Cup bid” (at http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/25/us-soccer-fifa-qatar-idUSKBN0FU1M720140725), I could not get the Sunday times link as people need to pay for it and it cannot be fully shown, yet the quote is seen at CNN (at http://edition.cnn.com/2014/06/02/sport/football/football-qatar-world-cup-sunday-times/) which states: “We’ve seen millions of documents that prove without a shadow of doubt that corruption was involved. There is clear evidence linking payments to people who have influence over the decision of who hosted the World Cup“.
I think we should DEMAND the display of these documents. If there is corruption, we are entitled to see it, on the other hand, if we accept that it is more likely than not that an industry that misses out on millions of dollars are behind the accusations, then we are allowed to see that as well. In that regard, if the Royal commission would prefer not to be the laughing stock regarding the press, then in my view, it should have only one response to the quote from the Sunday Times, when it is proven wrong. The Sunday Times is to cease all operations for no less than 6 months, all staff to be paid during this time, no online activities and no revenue based activities. Subscribers get an automatic 6 months extension.

Is that too harsh?

The claims here, the claims in regards to MH-370 that were made by the Telegraph, none of it founded and no actual evidence ever presented.

Why is this such a big deal?

As the Olympics evolved, the base need for honest and open competition is what allows for differences to be settled. The concept of the Olympics was also continued in other events, like the World Cup Soccer and the Commonwealth Games. These events go beyond the events on the field. It allows for trade discussions, diplomacy and other conversations that have larger impact, in some cases none of them an option in an official capacity. This is why I disagree with Nick Clegg on this.

Even now, I have been adamant about the need for President Vladimir Putin to speak out harshly against these separatists since the first day it happened. It is likely that he relied on the wrong advisers (as I see it), but to cut off options of diplomacy is NEVER EVER a good idea. Even now, we see news (at http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/07/27/vladimir-putin-facing-multi-million-dollar-lawsuit-for-aiding-separatists-who-shot-down-mh17-lawyers-say/) where the headline “Vladimir Putin facing multi-million dollar lawsuit for aiding separatists who shot down MH17, lawyers say“.

How is this even realistic?

Is there ACTUAL evidence that Putin did directly support in the act that resulted in the downing of MH17? Yes, I agree there are issues with the hardware the separatists have and I mentioned that the first day, whilst the press were all about the ’emotional stories’ (which is not journalistic out of place). The facts are there and they need to be answered, but that lawsuit is a joke. Consider the fact that Osama Bin Laden was a product of the CIA, trained to some extend and funded to a larger extent. Was President George W. Bush, Senator Charles Wilson or many others ever sued for 9/11? Both premises are equally ridiculous. I see them all as meagre attempts from certain individuals to claim income and/or visibility from where ever they can.

So, why this switch?

If any of these issues are to ever be resolved we need to keep one open path, one path no one messes with to remain. We need sports to remain to be about sports, so that those attending (not those who participate), to divert the conversation to non-sport matters. If we can keep peace through an innocent informal conversation, then by all means let us do that. Preferably without a group of bloody Murdoch’s miscreants making claims without producing the actual evidence trying to divert games towards a better ‘big business’ marketable environment. My reasoning here is twofold. First the quote as “We’ve seen millions of documents that prove without a shadow of doubt that corruption was involved”. Were these people really that stupid? The one true rule here is that if it isn’t written down, it does not exist, would people state ‘in writing’ such events (people who should be a lot more intelligent than I am), or is it just a bluff? You see, evidence (or not) did the press not have clear, distinct and utter responsibility to produce and print this evidence? The people who have been hiding behind every sleaze report with pictures stating ‘the people have a right to know’, now suddenly they hide behind innuendo and silence? That is part of the picture I have a problem with.

The old reasons are now clearly in focus.

Sport should be about sport and sport alone. The people in the field are all about that what they excel in and as such, it might be the only true entertaining excitement left to us. This atmosphere will always allow for officials who are admiring their team. What was more endearing, more powerful and more sportive then seeing the Royal Dutch family amongst the Dutch, all in Orange, cheering for their team! What a massive adrenaline jolt it must have been for those players to hear their own royal family cheer for them! Is anything more amazing in sports? Is there a chance that his royal highness, King Willem Alexander of the Netherlands shook hands with an official from another nation, perhaps starting a conversation? The fact that Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin were there for the match and had a conversation can only be a good thing for all kinds of reasons in the long run.
We seem to forget these old reasons. We get the sports, but foremost, we get the commercials and we get clobbered to death by sponsors with their trinkets, foods and drinks. That last part is the part too many are catering to. The bringers of news (especially in paper forms) are at least one third advertisements. Income is dwindling here and papers are more and more about keeping their (possible) advertisers happy. Even though these politicians can hold talks anywhere, allowing them to hold onto as many as informal places as possible is a given need. So, as such, for now, I feel that Moscow 2018 should continue.

If not, then Moscow should have never won the bid in the first place.

 

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